Pokémon Go is everywhere—this smartphone game is so popular that people are pouring out onto the streets and into their neighborhoods for hours on end while trying to "catch 'em all."
The game is being lauded for its health benefits as players spend hours and walk miles in search of Pokémon to capture.
But if you’re looking down at your phone the whole time you’re playing, you’re putting your health at risk in other ways. Specifically, you may be at risk for text neck.
What is text neck?
Text neck is posture in which the neck is bent forward and down as someone looks at their handheld phone or device. If this posture is held for an extended amount of time, it can strain the muscles, tendons, and ligaments in the neck, causing pain and stiffness.
More alarmingly, chronic text neck may lead to premature degeneration in the cervical spine, bone spurs, and muscle deformity. This is especially alarming for young people’s spines. Their spines are still growing and developing, and experts aren’t sure what impact this can have over the course of years or decades.
How to play Pokémon Go injury-free
If you or someone you love is playing Pokémon Go a lot, these tips can help prevent text neck and the problems it can cause:
- Hold your phone at a higher angle.
The higher you can hold it while playing, the less strain you’re putting on your neck.
- Take breaks.
After you catch a Pokémon, take a short break to put the phone down and arch your neck and shoulders back. If you’re at a Pokéstop or Gym, take a break every 15 to 20 minutes.
- Stretch your neck.
Tuck your chin down, then slowly raise it upward. Then swivel your head over one shoulder, then the other.
- For more tips, see: How to Avoid Text Neck Overuse Syndrome
Watch: Text Neck Treatment Video
In addition to text neck, Pokémon Go players are in danger of tripping and falling by walking while looking their phones. Don’t get so wrapped up in the game that you’re not watching where you’re going, especially on busy streets or sidewalks.
Finally, seriously hard-core players may be putting themselves at risk for shin splints if they’re walking much more than usual. Check out this article about recognizing and treating shin splints on our sister site Sports-health.