Is Your Smartphone Hurting You?

Jiddah — Apprentices at the Jiddah Industrial Training Center (JITC) held their heads up high during the first “Text Neck Syndrome” awareness campaign as part of the “2017 Year of Health” series.

Summer Program B participant and JITC health team member Bandar Al-Harbi delivered an eye-opening presentation designed to raise awareness of the syndrome with more than 200 apprentices, along with staff, in attendance.

Text neck is caused by prolonged use of hand-held devices with the neck in a flexed position that triggers neck and shoulder pain. People of many professions who require long periods of neck flexion are affected, including desk workers, manicurists, factory line workers, and surgeons. People of many ages can be affected, but it’s particularly more common in young people because they are constantly on social media.

Protection Through Proper Posture

“While using our smartphones, posture isn’t necessarily something we think about, but one thing certainly is weighing heavily on us. The human head weighs between 4.5 and 6 kilograms, which is rather heavy. The neck and spine are designed to support that weight,” said Al-Harbi. “But that’s not effective when the head is bent down looking at a cellphone or other mobile device.

“The best way to avoid developing Text Neck Syndrome is by keeping one’s neck in a neutral, upright position. Ideally, one should hold the phone or device at eye level, which helps reduce the angle of forward head posture, and thus reduces the stress on the neck. The more one’s neck is bent, the greater the weight the neck must carry,” he added.

Khaalid Dunston, advanced ITC teacher and health team coordinator, said the goal of the campaign was to raise awareness of the damage poor posture can do to spines.

“The JITC Health Team hopes that, as a result of the campaign, more apprentices will be mindful of their postures and learn to care for their spinal health,” he said.

“We all need to adopt good posture habits now to prevent health problems later in life, which may occur after decades of using a hand-held device,” added Peter Jones, JITC assistant principal.

Improve Students’ Lifestyles

Established in February 2017, the JITC Health Team Program involves apprentices and summer program students and is supported by JITC management, teachers, and renowned health experts who share their knowledge and experience. The goal of the program is to improve students’ lifestyles by exploring health-related issues relevant to them on- and off- the-job.

Activities in the program include presentations, roundtable discussions, competitions, off-site health- and wellness-related field trips, and LCD displays of health tips.

“We decided on the topic of Text Neck Syndrome because smart-device use is high among apprentices and many of them remain unaware of how their seemingly inconsequential habits could irreparably damage their spinal health in the future,” said Yacine Rachi, JITC principal.