How Your Texting Or Facebooking Posture Is Killing Your Neck.

neck-pain-smartphoneWP-FBThe way we carry ourselves plays an integral part in our long-term health. Bad posture – especially over prolonged periods of time – can lead to numerous health conditions such back and neck pain, inability to tolerate a certain position for long periods of time and even difficulty walking. The better your posture is, the less your risk of developing these musculoskeletal problems.

Certain jobs are noted for a higher risk for musculoskeletal problems. [1] These are jobs that are sedentary, where there is a limited amount of movement involved (e.g. office workers, medical technicians such as sonographers, and other similar occupations).

However, a new type of problem has arisen in recent years with the recent generation of portable devices. It now turns out that on average, people spend two to four hours with their heads tilted forward because of smart devices. [2] That amounts to 700 to 1400 hours each year spent being hunched over – a worrying statistic with potentially serious health consequences.

neck-chart

What The Medical Community Says A study published in the Surgical Technology International Journal in 2014 [3] revealed that the weight the spine carries increases as the neck is flexed. An adult head weighs anywhere between 10 and 12 pounds, and as you bend your neck forward, this weight increases. When the neck is bent forward at greater than 90 degrees, the force exerted on the spine can no longer be measured.

But these are all just numbers. It can be hard to imagine how much 40 or 60 pounds actually is without concrete examples. Bending your neck half-way down, which is at 45 degrees, causes a pressure of almost 50 pounds to be exerted on your spine.

Correcting Your Posture
Avoiding these particular musculoskeletal problems caused by bad posture is as “simple” in theory as sitting up straight with your neck and back in a neutral position (at 0 degrees). This places less stress on the spine, decreasing the risk of injuring it in the long run.

However this poses a challenge simply due to ingrained habits and the fact that our existing furniture was never designed to accommodate what we are doing with modern devices. Holding an ipad or mobile phone up at eye height continually? It seems things will likely get worse before they get better.

Continually having bad posture can lead to surgeries in the ten years, or even less with the rate people are going, spending more and more time on their phones and computers. The next time you hear your mom, partner or even a concerned co-worker comment on your posture, it may be better to heed their warnings.

References:
[1] Trinkoff, A. M., Lipscomb, J. A., Geiger-Brown, J., Storr, C. L., & Brady, B. A. (2003). Perceived physical demands and reported musculoskeletal problems in registered nurses. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 24(3), 270-275. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12657347

[2] Harvard Editorial Board: How to soothe a sore neck. The essentials are icing and heat, gentle therapeutic exercise, and good posture. Harv Mens Health Watch 2014;18(11):5.

[3] HANSRAJ, K. K. (2014). Assessment of stresses in the cervical spine caused by posture and position of the head. Surgical technology international, 25, 277-279. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25393825