Are you looking down at a phone right now? Perhaps an iPad, or you’re hunching over a computer? We spend lots of time stooped over gazing at our screens, without a second thought as to how our body feels about being in that hunched over position. Doctors are now seeing more and more patients coming in with back pain, shoulder pain, headaches and an increased curvature of the spine that they’re calling it “text neck.” The weight of constantly¬†looking down to check emails, scroll through Facebook and edit pictures is taking its toll on our spines.

Millenials love their smartphones; in fact, 87 percent of them say it never leaves their side, according to Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byer’s annual Internet trends report. Poor posture is only furthered by our love of staying connected; without proper posture, we are more stressed, have more achey muscles and have less energy.

text neck

A good curve of the neck is around 40 degrees, but cases like this one show avid techies having a neck curve of anywhere from 26 to 34 degrees, a reverse curve. This text neck is believed to lead into early onset of arthritis and decreased lung capacity, a concerning possibility for kids growing up in the era of expanding technology. Start instilling good posture in your youngsters from the get-go: sitting up straight with feet firmly planted on the floor. Without the proper sitting posture, kids who are still growing could cause permanent damage to their spine. When you sit and lean forward, with your ears over your shoulders, 10 pounds of pressure is added on the spine for every inch you lean over. That’s a lot of weight for the spine to manage (especially if your body is already dealing with your poor posture).

>> Check out these desk stretches for the office mama!

In this realm of back issues, prevention is key, because a severe case of text neck could take three months to reverse. Start holding your devices at eye level and take breaks from them often. Practice good office ergonomics. Relieve the tension in your neck by doing shoulder exercises, using resistance bands and seeing a chiropractor when necessary. You might be part of the 87 percent who is never parted from their phones, but make sure you’re involved in a healthy relationship with technology, because technology is only one addition to the long list of ways that we are slowly killing our backs. Read more about cell phones and the health risks ringing in our ears.