Constantly looking down at your phone can cause a 27 kg force on your neck
On average, we are spending up to four hours a day looking down to read something or check our phones. This equates to 1,400 hours every year of extra stress on our cervical spines - the part in our necks just above our shoulders. A new study suggests that every time we do, we are putting about 27kg of force on our necks.
Many of us use our mobile phones and tablets to search the internet, for social network, sms, banking, work, read, play and to communicate. On average we spend around 4 hours a day looking down to read something on our phone or tablet, or our good old fashioned books. Our smart devices however taking over our reading times.
This is the reason why the latest study came under reflector light.
Kennet Hansray, chief spinal and orthopaedic surgeon at the New York Spine Surgery and Rehabilitation Medicine in the US, used a 3D computer model of the human spine to calculate the effect of constantly bending our heads down to check our phones. Because our heads are being quiet heavy - weighing up to 5.5kg - when we are frequently looking down for extended periods, we are increasing the gravitational pull on them.
In this paper in Surgical Technology International, Hansraj states:"As the head tilts forward, the forces seen by the neck surge to 27 punds (12kg) at 15 degreees, 40 pounds (18kg) at 30 degrees, 49 pounds (22kg) at 45 degrees and 60 pounds (27kg) at 60 degrees. The weight seen by the spine dramatically increases when flexing the head forward at varying degrees. these stresses may lead to ealry wear, tear, and degeneration, and possibly surgeries."
Of course, this does not mean that we need to be overly concerned about our increased use of technology, however it is important to be conscious of the issue. Such knowledge will enable us to correct our posture as we are checking our devices or reading a book, as prevention is better then cure.
Not only does forward head posture cause nerve pain, stress to the spine, but it can also create metabolic problems.
Try to take a deep breath in a slumped position. now sit up straight and try again. Experts say slouching can reduce the capacity of our lungs by as much as 30%. A lack of oxygenated blood flowing through the body can potentially lead to vascular disease and gastrointestinal problems can be caused by pressure placed on the organs in a bad posture.
How to reduce these problems?
Take breaks: Look up from your device every 20-25 minutes and take a five minutes break.
Use a case or stand: If you must use your mobile device for lengthy typing, invest in an external keyboard. Place your devices on a stand so that you are able to look straight ahead instead of craning your neck down to see it.
When reading, lean back and use pillows. when your are reading a book on a device, lean back into a comfortable position on the couch or in bed, and use pillows to support your head and neck and your back. Also prop the device on pillows so it is at your face level and not a strain on your neck,
Finally, stretching frequently and doing strengthening exercises, such as yoga, can be very helpful, and make sure you are breathing properly - you may be holding your breath without realising it.
All in all we just need to remind ourselves that we need to consciously think about our posture.
Are gadgets responsible for our back pain? - Debarati S. Sen, TNN | Nov 27, 2014New Study Shows What Cell Phone Use Does To Our Neck - Beck Crew, Science Alert | Nov 20, 2014
Study Shows What Cell Phone Use Does To Our Neck - Jolene Creighton in Technology News | Nov 21, 2014