Being engaged with your smartphone for hours can cause severe damage to your spine, says the latest research. Published by Kenneth Hansraj in the National Library of Medicine, the research highlights the damaging effects of the poor posture of millions of smartphone users, sometimes also known as “text neck”, which might lead to early wear-and-tear on the spine. The weight of a human head is about a dozen pounds and on bending the neck forward or down, the cervical spine starts experiencing increased weight. 27 pounds becomes the weight at a 15-degree angle, 40 pounds at 30 degrees, 49 pounds at 45 degrees and 60 pounds at 60 degrees.
Chief of spine surgery at New York Spine Surgery and Rehabilitation Medicine, Hansraj, said “it is an epidemic or, at least, it’s very common. Just look around you, everyone has their heads down.” Smartphone users are often engaged in sending texts, reading emails or checking social media sites which make them hunched for about two to four hours per day. Calculating for a year, it comes to 700 to 1,400 hours of stress on the spines. Hansraj added that the scenario among the high-school goers is even worse and they possibly spend 5,000 more hours in the poor posture.
Hansraj explained “the problem is really profound in young people. With this excessive stress in the neck, we might start seeing young people needing spine care. I would really like to see parents showing more guidance.” For years, the medical experts have been warning people against this posture. According to the president of the American Physical Therapy Association’s Private Practice Section, Tom DiAngelis, the effect of text neck resembles the bending of a finger backwards and holding it like that for hours. He said “as you stretch the tissue for a long period of time, it gets sore, it gets inflamed.” The damages can also include herniated disks, pinched nerves, muscle strain and distortion of neck’s natural curve.
Michelle Collie, a doctor who heads Performance Physical Therapy in Rhode Island, noted that it was some six or seven years back when she began treating patients with mobile technology-induced back or neck pain. Poor posture also leads to reduced lung capacity, headaches, neurological issues, heart disease and depression. The research also suggest that “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.”
Serving a number of purposes, smartphones have emerged as a significant part of the lives of many. Avoiding it might be difficult, however, certain tips, as suggested by Hansraj, can help the users to stay healthy. Looking down at the device without bending the neck, moving the head in different directions several times and resisting the head with hands and pushing the head against them can be opted.