In today’s society almost everyone has a smartphone. Between texting and using other apps, we are on our phones now more than ever. They keep us connected with other people and allow us to stay informed on any topic by being able to access Google at any time. They do have some drawbacks, such as affecting the spine. Frequently hunching over your phone, texting, surfing, or reading takes a toll on your spine in numerous ways.
In one study, it was found that looking down at your phone can exert up to 60 pounds of pressure on your head and neck. 60 pounds is a lot of weight and puts a lot of strain on your neck muscles and ligaments, and can lead to early onset of degenerative disc disease.
When you are texting someone it involves the upper extremity as well as the neck and back. The act of texting can cause the shoulders to become tight and can put pressure on the nerves that travel down into the hands, which can cause pain. Being hunched over while texting can also lead to lower back issues, since we are put in an abnormal position.
Spending and extended period of time on your phone it will lead to what is called “text neck”. The muscles will become hypertonic (tight) due to the extra strain that they are being put under. These muscle spasms can travel all the way down the back, and often makes us unsure of what is the cause of our pain. Even if I tell you to not use your phone as much I know you will not listen, so here are a few pointers in order to help out your spine.
Watch your posture: Just by bringing the phone up in front of your face so that your neck is still in a neutral position will relieve the amount of pressure placed on the neck and upper back. It can also aid in prevention of early onset of degenerative disc disease.
Breaks: Avoid having your nose in your phone all the time. Talking with other people is how the world used to work before texting, so get out there and talk with people, face to face. If you are jumping on the internet, try to only do it for a couple minutes at a time. Other things you can do are take walks. Now I know when you’re at work it is hard to take walks, but even if that means walking up and down the hallway. But, when you do go down that hallway leave your phone at your desk.
Stretching: Bring your shoulders back and drop them down. As a society we tend to have our shoulders roll forward from working on computers or texting. Roll the shoulders back and drop them. Also spend time moving your neck from side to side and up and down to stretch it out. This will keep your body loose and prevent pain from settling in.
Visit a Chiropractor: Everyone should already be under the care of a Chiropractor. If you aren’t, find one. If pain, spasms, or irritation in your neck, shoulders, back or any other part of your body start to occur, it is time see a Chiropractor. Pain is usually the last symptom to show; so there is an underlying issue that has taken place. We can give you things to do in order to keep you from getting to the point of having these pains.
By following these tips we can take back control of our spines that our phones currently have. Spend time away from your phone. We are so controlled by phones and spend so much time on them that we don’t realize the strain that is placed on our bodies. Everyone is designed to be healthy, so let’s strive for that goal.
Dr. Cory T. O’Lear-Zebroski