Dr. Kathie (Chiropractor)

How many hours a day do you spend on your mobile phone? Or looking down at your iPad screen? Or stuck in the infinite scroll of social media?

Did you know that one average we spend 2 to 4 hours a day with our heads tilted forward reading and texting on our mobile devices? Longer if you are a teenager who is juggling school work as well. (1)

Do you know what sort of effect this has on your spine and posture?

In a three year study of 1049 people, it was found that “70% of adults and 30% of children and teens reported that their use of electronic devices like smart phones, tablets and laptop computers had caused neck shoulder and wrist or finger pain.” (2)

 

This is not surprising when you consider how much heavier your head gets when it is moved forward by you looking down.

Normally, in a neutral position, or “good posture”, where your earlobes and shoulders are lined up on top of each other and your shoulder blades are gently pulled back, the average human head weighs 4.5-5.5kg.

Consider how this weight changes as you look down:

  • At 15 degrees, your head now weighs 12.3kg
  • At 30 degrees, it increases to 18.2kg
  • At 45 degrees, it weighs 22.3kg
  • At 60 degrees, it exerts a force of 27.3kg on your spine!

 

But what does this actually mean for you? 

This might mean that you suffer from headaches, shoulder pain, and stress in the muscles around the upper back and neck. It also means that over many years, you may develop degenerative changes in and around the discs of your cervical spine. (3)

 

So, knowing that mobile device use and social media aren’t going anywhere in the near future, how can you minimise the risk for yourself and your family?

  • Use ergonomically configured desktop arrangements where possible (where your eyes are level with the top of the screen)
  • When using your mobile device, hold it up at eye level rather than looking down (which will mean you aren’t texting and walking, which is probably safer anyway!)
  • If you notice any stiffness, change positions, or stop what you are doing totally for a few minutes and stretch (try the desktop widget at sitright.com.au for a frequent reminder)
  • Make sure you get a chiropractic check up periodically to ensure that all your spinal joints are moving appropriately and properly aligned!

 

References

(1) Hansard, K “Assessment of Stressed in the Cervical Spine Caused by Posture and Position of the Head”, Neuro and Spine Surgery, Surgical Technology International XXV

(2) www.mensfitness.com/gear/is-your-smartphone-making-you-hunch

(3) Dayton, L., (2015) “Teens compulsive texting can cause next injury, experts warn” Los Angeles Times, https://www.latimes.com/health/la-he-text-neck-20150404-story.html#page=1