With smart phone in hands of every one out of five people on this globe its now the time to seriously focus on the way we use our smart phones to check mail or use face-book and other apps with prolonged usage.
A peek into this research based article will not only aware you but also warn you of the major musculoskeletal disorders you may contract, while using your smartphones in wrong postures. By the time you are done reading this article (and, please, no slouching while reading) you will be clued in on some actionable tips you can put into practice right now to combat “the smart phone slump,” and eliminate or greatly reduce the pain and problems that come along with it.
By the time today’s kids reach college going age, they would have already become experts at slumping over their cell phones. They will have hit the coveted 10,000-hour mark and their thumbs will deftly move over the virtual keys of their virtual keyboard, their necks bent downward at impossible angles and whats worse even, they might as well have a 7-year-old on their backs.
A recent study published in Surgical Technology International suggests that texting can add up to 50 pounds of pressure on a person’s spine, depending on the angle at which the person is texting. It upholds a new school of thought in the medical field that deplores many of the modern conveniences we’ve come to love: the toilet, the office chair, and, of course, the cell phone. Though not all these technologies are necessarily evil, but that evolution has designed our bodies to function best without them. In today’s world of conveniences, we don’t seem to care.
“Loss of the natural curve of the cervical spine leads to incrementally increased stresses about the cervical spine,” suggests Dr. Kenneth K. Hansraj, who is a spinal and orthopedic surgeon. Chief of Spine Surgery at New York Spine Surgery and Rehabilitation Medicine.
His eye opening study finds, that as the human head tilts forward the forces seen by the neck surge. When we hold our head in a healthy, neutral position, the forces to the cervical spine are about 10-12 pounds. However as we tilt our head forward-disaster happens:This graph from the study described above shows the effects of the tilt that accompanies cell phone use.
Your spine is at its happiest when your ears fall on the same plane as your shoulders, and your shoulder blades are retracted. Without these adjustments, you put added stress on your spine, says Dr. Hansraj.
Frequent postural stress may lead to all sorts of neck problems, including early wear and tear, degeneration, and possibly the need for surgery.
You may look at the photo below and think nothing of it, because this is what we typically see when we are out and about, and it is even the stance we are accustomed to taking when using our own smartphones and devices.
Looks pretty normal, right?
But let’s take a closer look, and compare to what Dr. Hansraj was referring to in his research.
Here’s what is actually happening.
If we draw an angle marking the degree of head tilt, we will see this man’s head is tilted at approximately 45 degrees. That means our Chief Executive, has gone from putting the normal 10-12 pounds of weight on his neck to a whopping 49 pounds!
As normal people we spend an average 2-4 hours of our time with our head tilted over for reading or texting on our smartphones, can you imagine how much we might be stressing our spine daily. Cumulatively this amounts 700 to 1,400 hours per year of excess stress placed on the cervical spine. To make matters even worse, high school students are spending an extra 5,000 hours bent over reading, texting, and typing on their devices. Imagine the impact that is having on our necks and backs!
Follow the below mentioned smart tips for overcoming the negative effects of your smartphone.
Holding your phone while typing may look funny to some but will offer your neck the perfect posture while texting or reading. Regular handling of your phone like this will force you to hold your head, neck, and shoulders in a better and healthier position.
The best reason for holding the smartphone at eye level is that it has a built-in time restricting feature, and not to mention a slight embarrassment factor. As in: you will notice when you hold your phone at eye level your shoulder muscles tire quickly, and also it looks funny. This will force you to only use your phone for short periods of time, whereas when you sit and comfortably look down at your phone, you may be able to use your phone for long periods without experiencing any form of discomfort.Hold your phone at eye level to avoid excessive tilting.
It is a good idea to type or use your smartphone, keeping your elbows on the table. This provides a perfect posture with your eyes and phone in one line and reduces stress on neck and shoulders totally.
Another excellent posture while using your smartphone is, lie down on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Hold your phone over your face to text and surf the Internet. This position will put your head on the same plane as your shoulders and will allow the muscles of your neck and upper back to relax.
As all smartphones offer voice transcription feature, learn to use it and talk your text messages, social media posts, and emails instead of typing. This might take a little time for you to get accustomed to, but your neck, shoulders, and back will thank you.
The most recommended, and by far most effective of all the tips: restrict the use of social media, email, and games from your phone. Though this might sound crazy, think about it – there was a time in your life when you didn’t have social media, much less even a portable cell phone.
Instead, try scheduling designated time to handle your emails and social media from your computer where you can set up your ergonomics to support good body positioning as you type.
Anyone can avoid the cell phone slump as its simple to do. What it requires is a little self-discipline and awareness. But it’s worth doing for the difference it will make in your neck, back, and the rest of your body, too!
images: courtesy google
Dr. Amitabh Singh is the founder of AadyantaLife. He provides alternative and complementary healing therapies to difficult ailments including cancer. He specializes in Mindfulness Meditation coaching. His thought-provoking enlightening lectures are for those who are interested in alternative ways to improve their lifestyle and well being.