In the modern age of technology it is a common sight to see people looking down at their phones. There is a good chance you are reading this right now on a smartphone. Although technology certainly offers some advantages with business and communication, it has many disadvantages and can even be hazardous to our health.
“Text Neck” is a condition that is becoming extremely prevalent. Studies show that the amount of stress on the cervical spine, the portion of the spine in the neck, significantly increases while looking down texting. The human head weighs about 12 pounds with good posture (0 degree angle). This load can be increase to up to 60 pounds of pressure on the spine while looking down! The greater the angle of flexion, the greater the weight load. According to a study by spinal surgeon Kenneth Hansraj, MD, the numbers are as follows:
15 degree angle causes 27lbs of force.
30 degree angle causes 40lbs of force.
45 degree angle causes 49lbs of force.
60 degree angle causes 60lbs of force.
Imagine hanging a 60 pound weight from your neck and carrying it around. Even a 27 pound weight sounds pretty annoying. Now imagine the effect it will have internally. To put things in perspective, people have been suffering from arthritis, herniated and bulged discs, degeneration and muscle/connective tissue imbalances in high numbers for a very long time before cell phones and computers. It is logical to conclude that with the modern use of smart phones and tablets, there will be an unprecedented increase in frequency and severity of neck injuries and pain.
Another study in the journal Ergonomics that compared texting, internet browsing and video watching on a smart phone, showed that the angle was most increased while texting compared to the other activities. These other activities still increased the angle significantly. It also showed that texting while sitting was worse that texting while standing.
The key is to not look down for a prolonged period of time. We cannot avoid technology but we can modify the way we use it in order to spare out bodies. Holding the phone up in front of the face without looking down, or looking down with the eyes and not the whole head so that there is little or no flexion angle would be the best remedy. Also, diligently maintaining good posture and reinforcing it with corrective exercise is essential. In this way, the foundation will be more stable.
The human body is the most complex and amazing piece of equipment on the planet, and we only get one. Beware of underestimating it’s capabilities and neglecting it’s care by focusing so much on equipment that is way inferior.