It seems that we are growing more attached to our cell phones every day, but we never really stop to consider the amount of pressure our spines go through each time we bend our necks down. The poor posture is more commonly referred to as "text neck", which can add anywhere between 30-60lbs (15-30kg) of pressure on the lumbar region by the awkward spinal angles.
The force increases by approximately 27 pounds (12.2kg) at a 15-degree angle, 40 pounds (18kg) at a 30-degree angle, 49 pounds (22kg) at a 45-degree angle and 60 pounds (27kg) at a 60-degree angle. That would be like having a small child sitting on your neck while you type!
The Symptoms & Consequences of "Text Neck"
Having your neck in a downward position for extended periods of time can result in severe stretching of the spinal tissue, which could potentially lead to pinched nerves, herniated disks, and even spinal surgeries. Texting can also strain your eyesight, especially when you have to squint down further to read the words or titles. Some of the symptoms of "text neck" can include; tightness across the shoulders, soreness of the neck (stiff neck), and chronic headaches.
Dr. Kenneth Hansraj, who is the chief of spine surgery at New York Spine Surgery and Rehabilitation Medicine, wrote about how texting drastically affects the spine with bad posture, and published it in the U.S. National Library of Medicine. The research suggested that keeping good posture is ideal to prevent spinal injuries from occurring.
Dr. Hansraj points out a safer alternative to "text neck". He suggests that your ears should be aligned with the shoulders, while the shoulder blades are retracted. This position reduces the amount of stress on the spinal region. Dr. Hansraj also suggests that you should look down at your cell phones and tablets, by moving your eyes down in favor of bending the neck.
Preventing "Text Neck":
- Make sure your neck isn't tilted when you're glancing down at the phone. Instead, try scrolling with your eyes only, while keeping your neck in a neutral position.
- Keep your neck and spine comfortably rested on a few pillows if you're going to text while in bed.
- Keep your ears aligned with the shoulders, and your shoulder blades retracted. This is important posture for texting while sitting inside a moving vehicle or train.
- Avoid eye strain by making the fonts on the phone or tablet larger when possible. You can enter the display settings and simply change the fonts to a larger size.
- Hold a tablet straight in front of you at a 30 degree angle when typing to keep your neck and wrists protected.
- Take a break every 15 minutes or so by looking up and bringing the neck back into the neutral position.
All it takes is a few slight adjustments to maintain proper posture, and you can limit the potential for unwanted cervical spinal stress.
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