We’ve talked about “Text neck” before: the pain in your neck caused by keeping your head in a forward and down position for extended periods of time while texting. But now there is a new name for it: “Pokemon Go neck”. The newest technology craze is getting people up and moving, but because it requires users to look at their phones while walking, and because of the extended hours of play, more and more people are starting to complain of neck pain! And that’s not the only injury – there are more severe injuries being reported as players are not aware of their actual surroundings, only that of the game on their phone, when walking around in a real environment.
This isn’t the first time our bodies have had to adapt to technology. One of the first adaptations, of course, was the car. Then came the office desk. Then came laptops. Then cell phones. Then the iPads and tablets. And now Pokemon! And technology’s effects on our bodies is not limited to neck pain. Remember the Blackberries with the left side scroll dial? There actually was a medical condition called “Blackberry Thumb” when those phones were popular. Blackberry Thumb was an overuse and tendonitis of the thumb muscles from all that email scrolling!
So why is this neck pain a big deal? Our heads are approximately 13 pounds, the size and weight of a bowling ball. We carry that around all day long, and our anatomy is designed for our neck muscles to support the head in a completely upright position, not in a forward position. When we ask our muscles to do more than they are designed to do, we have problems. Plain and simple. And those problems start as muscular pain, but then the repetitive actions start to hold our muscle and connective tissue into these patterns even when we are not doing that movement. That can lead to constant muscular pain, headaches, and over the years spinal disc compression, herniation and degeneration.
If you have been bitten by the Pokemon Go bug, we’re not asking you to stop, BUT we are asking you to limit your play to 30 minutes at a time, and make sure and stretch your neck regularly. And not just if you are playing Pokemon… we all should be stretching our necks regularly!