We are seeing more young people showing up with injuries to the spine (neck, shoulders, back) that were more typical of older adults and the main reason is from use of hand held electronic devices such cell phones and tablets.
The study points out that the average adult human head weighs between 10 and 12 pounds when in the upright or neutral position, but due to gravitational pull, the cranium becomes heavier the more you bend your neck.
Bending your head and neck forward, as when looking down at your cell phone when texting, creates a progressively increasing load on the cervical spine. As such, tilting your head a mere 15 degrees puts an added 27 pounds of pressure on your spine; a tilt of 30 degrees is equal to an extra 40 pounds of pressure, while a 45-degree tilt is akin to 49 pounds. At a 60-degree angle while texting puts 60 pounds of pressure on your cervical spine (the section of the spine situated just above the shoulders).
And since the typical person apparently spends an average of between two and four hours each day sending and receiving texts that translates into a whole lot of load on the muscles and joints of the neck and shoulders... and even the lower back.
But wait, it gets worse: Loss of the natural curve of the cervical spine leads to incrementally increased stresses about the cervical spine. These stresses may lead to early wear, tear, degeneration and possibly surgeries. Click here for a discussion about the dangers of sustain loading of the spine and progressive deterioration. Bad posture has been linked to all manner of medical maladies, including headaches and neurological problems, along with depression, constipation and even heart disease.
All of a sudden, texting your appetizer order to friends while running late doesn’t seem so important, right?
Of course the problem is not limited to use of cell phones. We see the same issues from poor posture habits at the computer or other work stations. And from habits such as reading a book while resting it on your lap and bringing your eyes toward the book, instead of the book toward your eyes. And, who doesn't know the little old lady with the chronic neck pain, yet hunched over her knitting?
The study defines correct posture as “ears aligned with the shoulders and the ‘angel wings’ or the shoulder blades, retracted.”
While it is nearly impossible to avoid the technologies that cause these issues, individuals should make an effort to look at their phones with a neutral spine and to avoid spending hours each day hunched over.
Dr. Wayne Coghlan can help you understand the cause of your headaches, neck and upper back and lower back pain and find long term relief.