DR. CHARMAINE MAGALE, DC, CCSP, ART
Staring at your phone is bad for your spine
Stop and think about what you're doing to your spine, right now, as you're reading this post. Are you looking down at a smartphone? Or hunched over a computer screen? Sitting up straight isn't just good posture--it also prevents spine degeneration or "text neck."
Amit Chowdhry of Forbes.com explains why he's going to be aware of how he looks at his mobile phone from now on. Did you know that looking down at your mobile device for hours every day can be detrimental to your spine? The chief of spine surgery at New York Spine Surgery and Rehabilitation Medicine Dr. Kenneth Hansraj conducted a study about how one's posture while texting affects the spine and published it in the U.S. National Library of Medicine. The study is entitled: "Assessment of stresses in the cervical spine caused by posture and position of the head."
"People spend an average of about two to four hours per day with their head tilted to read text messages, e-mail, social media, e-books, print books and magazines, adding up to about 700 to 1,400 hours per year."
Most people have a tendency to tilt down their neck while sending and reading text messages. While standing at a neutral state, the force to the cervical spine is about 10 to 12 pounds - which is the weight of the average human head. The force to the cervical spine increases as the neck moves forward at different angles. The force increases by about 27 pounds at a 15-degree angle, 40 pounds at a 30-degree angle, 49 pounds at a 45-degree angle and 60 pounds at a 60-degree angle. The poor posture - which is known as "tech-neck" - may cause degeneration of the spine.
"The 'tech-neck' effect is comparable to bending a finger all the way back and keeping it there for around an hour."
"It is an epidemic or, at least, it's very common," said Dr. Hansraj in an interview with The Washington Post. "Just look around you, everyone has their heads down." If this epidemic keeps up, people may need spinal care early on in life. The pressure on the spine doubles for every inch that the head tilts forward. The "tech-neck" effect is comparable to bending a finger all the way back and keeping it there for around an hour, said the former president of the American Physical Therapy Association's Private Practice Section Tom DiAngelis via CNN.
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