By Sasha Pei-Silovo – EM TV Online
We’re all guilty of it somehow: leaning over our mobile phones, tablets, I-Pad or laptops for long intervals, not realising how much time we spend or how far we’ve been ‘bent over’ these devices.
Either engulfed in the long conversations we’re engaged in, or by a movie or social media, we tend not to pay attention to the extra strain being placed on our necks and upper backs in the process.
Health experts are sending out a strong message to avid users of technology devices, to be mindful of the “extra strain” on the back and neck, whilst balancing one’s head to maintain downward-looking position of the eyes.
Young people are especially vulnerable to experiencing spine problems, considering the amount of time spent slumped over phones and other gadgets.
According to a study by Kenneth K. Hansraj, MD, Chief of Spine Surgery at New York Spine Surgery & Rehabilitation Medicine, the strain placed on your neck increases as the forward angle of your head increases.
More simply put: the more we tilt our head forward, the more added strain we put on our neck and upper back. This is because, “when we tilt our heads forward, muscles, tendons and ligaments must engage to hold our heads still while we gaze at our screens. Even the discs between each vertebra get involved to distribute the force more evenly in our necks.”
The study by Dr Hansrai, published in the journal Surgical Technology International, is based on a computer model he created of the cervical vertebrae to study the effect weight has on the human spine.
“The average person is holding his or her head at a forward angle to look at a phone or read a tablet for 2-4 hours a day. Teenagers spend even more time staring at their devices, and they start doing that at an early age.”
Our heads weigh about 10 – 12 pounds, and according to Spineuniverse.com:
– At 15 degrees forward, tilt may equate to a head weighing 27 pounds.
– At 30 degrees forward, the strain on the neck equals a 40 pound head.
– The greater the angle, the greater the strain: 45 degrees forward equals 49 pounds of strain, and 60 degrees forward equals 60 pounds.
To prevent back strain, one must always maintain good posture, or proper alignment. The head must be upright, ears in line with the shoulders and the shoulder blades down and retracted.
Furthermore, mobile phones must be raised by the user; leaning down to type on it, must be avoided as much as possible and bring the phone up-level, or just below the face, when reading text messages, emails, browsing the internet or on social media.
It is also highly recommended by Jim Webster, a physical therapist at Rebound Orthopedic and Neurosurgery, to “change their position repeatedly throughout the day — every 30 minutes, change your position for 30 seconds — and reverse the pressures to the spine by stretching in opposite directions.”
Simple practises can help you to avoid health conditions that could lead to the damaging of your spine.