Its hard to deny that we live in a technology-centered society. We are surrounded by movie screens at all times both big and small. Computers, movie screens, television screens, tablets, and smartphones constantly surround us. All of these screens put unnecessary strain on our eyes, but our smartphones, in particular, can generate harmful strain on our back and neck! Young adults are especially susceptible because of a growing culture surrounding the constant desire for virtual connection.

When we hunch our necks over to look down at these screens, our necks start to feel the impact. Prolonged smartphone use has been shown to cause changes in neck proprioception (the joint position sense of the body that controls most of our balance and posture).

A study of 38 healthy individuals found that the use if a smartphone created a flexed cervical posture, which then resulted in a disturbance in neck proprioception. This suggests that prolonged smartphone use can impact your ability to move your neck and return impact your reflexes. Why are proprioception and reflexes so important? The brain requires constant stimulation from the body. This connection and stimulation is how the brain coordinates your body and health. When the neck becomes changed due to contact stress the stimulation to the brain is affected. Over 60% of all stimulation to the brain is directly from the spine and over 1/3 of all stimulation to the brain is from the neck alone!

Prolonged smartphone use has been shown to cause changes in neck proprioception (the joint position sense of the body that controls most of our balance and posture).

With a rise in headaches, neck pain, ADHD, sensory processing disorders, sleep issues and many more we have to realize that our technologies can be directly contributing. “Text Neck” can completely alter the way your brain perceives the environment and your health!

It has also been shown that prolonged use can impact our feed-forward motor control ( a way our central nervous system regulates motor control and spinal stability during sudden perturbation – a disturbance of motion.) Feed-forward motor control controls equilibrium and how we sense balance. Patients’ neck muscle activity and response were delayed during a series of rapid arm movements, The study also found that sustained neck flexion can have an impact on spine sensory-motor control. What does all of this mean? It can help contribute to PAIN!

Its hard to tear ourselves away from the screen and we are constantly wanting to connect with others via email, text, social media, and games. It is important to consider the strain we put on ourselves and remember that sometimes putting the cell phone down for a while can have profound effects on our health!

Blessings,

Mousavi-Khatir R, Talebian S, Toosizadeh N, Olyaei GR, Maroufi N.Disturbance of neck proprioception and feed- forward motor control following static neck flexion in health of young adults. journal of electromyography and Kinesiology. 2018;41:160-7

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