Text Neck? The Detrimental Effects of Smartphone Use!

07/07/2016

As Technology becomes a bigger part of our day to day lives we are becoming inseparable from our smartphones. One of the big issues is the posture that is adapted when using a smartphone or tablet with users hunching over the devices for hours on end. A recent study by a New York based spinal surgeon (1) has looked at the neck postures we adopt using smartphones and measured the impact on the body.

The results are probably worse than you might expect. Hansraj measured the force placed on the neck when it is in neutral then compared it to every 15° of neck flexion (bending the head forward) to a maximum of 60°. He showed that the neck in just 15° of flexion has over 12kg of force added to neck and increases up to 27kg of pressure at 60°!

Recent findings have found that people spend on average two to four hours per day with their head tilted over a smart phone and other devices. That’s an average of 700 to 1400 hours per year. So our bodies are having to work a lot harder for hundreds of hours each year just because we are looking down at our phones.

The area that has to deal with all this extra force is primarily your neck muscles, joints and intervertebral discs. So it’s little wonder that you can start to feel sore in the neck after spending too long on your phone. In addition to the joints having to absorb more force, they can also be pulled out of alignment meaning your body has to compensate for other areas of the body which are stuck. Your C7 vertebra is the lowest vertebra in your neck and can be leveraged forward when you adopt ‘phone posture’. This can lead to a worsening of your overall body posture and can develop into a forward head posture where your head sits further forward even when you are not using your smartphone

So what is the solution? If you have already created forward vertebrae then the best way to correct this is through an ABC™ adjustment. In the interest of prevention however, here are a few tips:

  • Keep your neck in neutral when using your phone with your ears sitting over the middle of your shoulders. Try not to look down at your phone as much as possible.
  • Think about placing yourself in a more supportive posture when having to use your phone. This might mean sitting in a chair where you can rest your elbows on arm rests that allow you to place your phone at eye level rather than in your lap.
  • Minimise the amount of time spent on your phone and keep an eye on your kids to ensure they don’t develop poor posture habits.

Above all, remember the longer the time spent in this position, the greater the consequences on your posture and overall health.

(1) Hansraj – Assessment of Stresses in the cervical spine caused by posture and the position of the head.

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