Brain Bulletin #94 - Are you getting Texter's Neck?

in Brain Bulletin

‘Texter's Neck’ is the position your neck is in when you are looking down at your phone. Flexing your head forward for long periods of time can cause cervical spinal degeneration which will affect your posture.

Remember, your posture doesn’t just affect your body. It affects your brain too.

The way you sit, stand, and walk has big implications for your mood and happiness. The latest studies show:

  • The way you move affects the way others see you.
  • When you sit up straight, you are more likely to think of positive things, or recall good memories. (San Francisco State)
  • A slow, slumped walk can drain your energy.
  • Amy Cuddy says posture even affects your hormone levels. (TED)
  • Your posture can even affect your decision making. (Harvard)

There are four billion mobile phones in the world. Texting has become a preferred form of communication. Think of all the time the average person spends hunched over a smart phone, or device. Day after day. Week after week. Year after year. Are you one of them? If so, you may have ‘Texter's Neck’.

‘Texter's Neck’ can cause neck strain, neck pain, and headaches. It can also cause arthritis. These can become chronic, and don't usually get better on their own.

If left untreated permanent damage can happen including:

  • Flattening of the spinal curve
  • Onset of early arthritis
  • Spinal degeneration
  • Spinal misalignment
  • Disc herniation
  • Disc compression
  • Muscle damage
  • Nerve damage
  • Loss of lung volume capacity
  • Gastrointestinal problems
    –(The Text Neck Institute)

A study found 84% of 18-24 year olds said they had back pain in the last 10 months (Simplyhealth). The same study found that people of all ages spend the same amount of time interacting with devices each day as they spend sleeping.

Consider this quote from the Wall Street Journal:
“If you do this day after day, .... the whole skeleton changes.” Dr. Golubic says. “... we do know that when you slouch, you project an attitude of depression and low motivation. When you sit up straight, psychologically, your attitude is better.”

And consider this:
“In the upright posture, venous outflow is considerably less pulsatile (57%) and occurs predominantly through the vertebral plexus, while in the supine posture venous outflow occurs predominantly through the internal jugular veins. A slightly lower tCBF (12%), a considerably smaller CSF volume oscillating between the cranium and the spinal canal (48%), and a much larger ICC (2.8-fold) with a corresponding decrease in the MRI-derived ICP values were measured in the sitting position.” (Alperin et al) other words, keep the blood flowing to your brain.

When you bend your neck and look down at your phone for a long time your are straining the the muscles and joints in your neck. This is unnatural, and it can cause poor posture. It can be permanent.

Emma Thompson once said, “We all stand about like parboiled spaghetti.” She might be right. Regardless, excellent posture is a valuable thing to portray to the world.

So: Try to cut back on the time you spend on your devices. And when you are using them, keep your head up. Your brain, and body, will thank you. Mindfulness is key.

One more thing. Your posture is often your Primacy Effect. For more on how important this is: The Primacy Effect.

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Well, It's been a busy month. I did a keynote at the Brain Bike Conference in Stowe Mountain Vermont, then to Montreux Switzerland to give another talk, and then teachers in Indianapolis. Plus, lots of presentations in British Columbia. I really enjoy speaking about the brain and leadership, wellness, and learning.

One of the things I like about travelling is meeting new people and seeing new things. New experiences helps the brain grow new connections. It turns out that Vermont really does look like the post cards, the Montreux Jazz Festival really should be on 'bucket lists', and people in Indiana are great! Plus, watching a baseball game at Victory Field was great fun. Now some time off for some summer cycling, reading, hiking.....

This fall will take me to Switzerland twice, Hong Kong, Ireland, Brazil, Indiana, and Germany. Plus, lots of time in the Pacific Northwest.