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A Person Using A Laptop Computer Sitting On Top Of A Table

Not-So-Smart Phone

Written by Dr. Audrey Klenke, MD, FACS

If you’re looking at this on your smart phone, you could be causing yourself pain and speeding up the aging process as you read. “Tech neck” refers to the repeated strain caused by continual use of handheld electronic devices. Our obsession with smart phones, tablets, and laptops has many of us gazing down more often than not, and as with almost anything in life, too much of a good thing can be bad.

It may sound a little far-fetched, but experts say “tech neck” is impacting millions of people. They say the repeated stress of flexing your head forward to read, text, and type can actually lead to cervical spinal degeneration. The most common complaints include pain in the neck, shoulders, back, and arms. Experts say the head-forward posture can even lead to muscle and nerve damage, triggering numbness and tingling in the arms.

As if the physiological strain on your body isn’t bad enough, doctors say “tech neck” can also cause deep creases and wrinkles to form on your neck. Gazing down frequently or for long periods of time causes the skin to fold, which leads to horizontal lines that will eventually be permanent. Other factors that can worsen neck wrinkles include sun exposure, smoking, and dry skin.

So, in the spirit of living a beautiful and healthy life, consider unplugging now and then. Instead of staring down endlessly at your favorite tech device, challenge yourself to take a break. Go outside for a short walk and stretch your muscles a bit. Experts say a 5-minute break for every 15 minutes you’re on your mobile device can make a big difference. Maybe our parents were really onto something all those times they told us “The fresh air will do you good!”

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