Chances are that you probably haven’t given much thought to how your neck and back are faring in the era of the smart phone, but studies show that you most certainly should. It’s practically a reflex these days to pull out our smart phones when we’re standing in line, sitting at the airport or riding the subway. And while it’s great that we rarely need to venture beyond our pockets for entertainment, our bodies are beginning to retaliate—and mourn the pre-texting days.
So, what exactly are these contemporary conveniences doing to our bodies? A surgeon-led study that was published in Surgical Technology International assessed what impact surgeons’ head and neck posture during surgery—a posture similar to that of smart-phone texters—has on their cervical spines. With each degree that our heads flex forward (as we stare at a screen below eye level), the strain on our spines dramatically increases. When an adult head (that weighs 10 to 12 pounds in the neutral position) tilts forward at 30 degrees, the weight seen by the spine climbs to a staggering 40 pounds, according to the study.
How pervasive of a problem is this? According to the study, the average person spends 14 to 28 hours each week with their heads tilted over a laptop, smart phone or similar device. Over the course of a year, that adds up to 700 to 1400 hours of strain and stress on our spines. As a result, the number of people dealing with headaches, achy necks and shoulders and other associated pain has skyrocketed. Trained to address postural changes and functional declines, physical therapists are well-versed in treating this modern-day phenomenon, widely known as “text neck.”
Over time, this type of poor posture can have a cumulative effect, leading to spine degeneration, pinched nerves and muscle strains. Scheduling an appointment with a physical therapist can help people learn how to interact with their devices without harming their spines. The PT will prescribe an at-home program that includes strategies and exercises that focus on preserving the spine and preventing long-term damage.
Exercise is an important part of taking care of our spines as we age, but what we do when we’re not in motion matters, too. So next time you pick up your smart phone or curl up with your e-reader, do a quick check of your head and neck posture. Your body will thank you for years to come.
Each day we are hearing more and more about the dangers of texting. While we are becoming highly sensitized to the impact of texting while driving, what we are just beginning to discover is the impact texting has on our bodies when we spend numerous hours each day looking down at our phones.
While holding a Smartphone in your hand is easy and seems rather harmless, the minute we look down at our screens, we are impacting our cervical spine. To help you better understand what looking down means to your neck, here are 5 hefty reasons to stop looking down so much…
Reason #1: When looking down just 15 degrees, the force on your cervical spine is equal to having 27 pounds hanging from your neck. To get a sense of this weight, imagine carrying two 14 pound bowling balls from this sensitive part of your body.
Reason #2: Shifting your head slightly lower to a 30 degree angle moves that weight from 27 pounds to 40 pounds. This weight compares to holding a bag of top soil with just your neck.
Reason #3: Looking down just a little further, at a 45 degree angle, the weight increases to 49 pounds, comparable to SIX GALLONS of water pulling your head down.
Reason #4: At a 60 degree angle, the most common position most of us use when reading or texting on our phones, this weight moves up to 60 pounds of pressure on our cervical spine!
Reason #5: Though it may not seem plausible, a study conducted by Surgical Technology International and published by The Washington Post, showed that most of us spend an average of 26 HOURS A WEEK on our phones, looking down!
So how do you counteract the impact?
Look down with your eyes, don’t bend your head, and remember how hefty the price could be for not understanding how convenient technology can lead to less than ideal physical conditions.
Be smart with your Smartphone. Look up for YOUR physical wellness!!!