Wondering what we’re talking about? Look no further than your teenager, possibly even the mirror. Craning your head and neck forward to watch another grumpy cat video, or respond to (yet another) ever-important text/email leads to excessive stress on the structures in your neck, especially when prolonged.
Your spine was designed with natural curves which serve to distribute load efficiently, placing minimal adverse stress on the structures (like the joints and ligaments) in your spine. In a neutral position, the weight experienced by the spine from the head is between 4.5 – 5.5kg. Increase the angle you bend your head forward to 60° and that becomes 27kg for the spine! (Hansraj, 2014).
People spend on average 2-4 hours per day on their smart phones/devices (Hansraj, 2014). This adds up to 700-1400 hours per year (you can add another 5000 hours of poor posture for the average high school student). Those poor joints, ligaments and muscles have to work really hard to hold your head up against gravity! This leads to issues such as pain syndromes, headaches and eventually structural changes, which are sometimes irreversible.
Technology is an important part of our lives today, so cutting smart phones out of the picture is not necessarily realistic. Here are some things you can do to limit the amount of time you spend adopting poor postures because of technology:
- Keep your phone at eye level to assist in keeping your spine in neutral
- Limit the time you spend on your device, where possible
- MOVE! Regular breaks from devices and a short movement/exercise routine can do wonders
Hansraj, K.K. (2014). Assessment of stresses in the cervical spine caused by posture and position of the head. [Online]. Available at https://pingeprii.ee/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Hansray-K.K.-Assessment-of-Stresses-in-the-Cervical-Spine-Caused-by-Posture-and-Position-of-the-Head.pdf
Persson, C. (2015). Text neck check: Smart phones can be a real pain in the neck. [Online]. Available at https://theburgnews.com/sports-health/text-neck-check-smart-phones-real-pain-neck.
Exercise photos courtesy of GrooviMovements Physio Software. [Online]. Available at https://www.groovimovements.co.za/