How Texting Affects your Spine
Computers and cell phones now play a significant role in every industrialized nation. A survey from 2015 revealed that 53% of people listed their cell phone as the most important item they would save from their home during a house fire. In 2014, a groundbreaking study published in the Surgical Technology International Journal illustrated the negative effects of consistently looking down at a smartphone as the current state of cell phone usage comes with a new set of disease risks unbeknownst to the user — Particularly in younger populations. Doctors have even created terminology for new conditions and diagnoses specific to this growing epidemic. The study called the “Assessment of stresses in the cervical spine caused by posture and position of the head” showed the amount of stress and pressure placed on the neck when users consistently placed their head in forward flexion at varying degrees to look down at their device. The findings were remarkable:
- The purpose of the study was to assess the forces incrementally seen by the cervical spine as the head is tilted forward into worsening posture.
- The mathematical analysis used a head weight of 13.2 pounds .
- The weight added to the spine dramatically increases when flexing for varying degrees. 0° increased weight on the neck by 10 to 12 pounds. 15° increased weight on the neck by 27 pounds. 30° increased the weight on the neck by 40 pounds. 45° increased the weight on the neck by 49 pounds. And 60° increased the weight on the neck by 60 pounds.
- Loss of the natural curve of the cervical spine leads to incrementally increased stresses about the cervical spine. The stresses may lead to early wear, tear, degeneration, and possibly surgeries.
- Good posture is defined as ears aligned with the shoulders and scapula retracted. With proper alignment, spinal stress is diminished.
- Good posture is associated with elevations in testosterone, increases in serotonin, decreases in cortisol, and increased feelings of power. Poor posture is associated with reductions in testosterone levels, reduced serotonin, increased cortisol, and reduced feelings of power.
- Poor posture invariably occurs with the head in a tilted forward position and the shoulders drooping forward in a rounded position.
- An average person spends 2 to 4 hours a day with their heads tilted forward for reading and texting on their smart phones, amassing 700 to 1400 hours of excess, abnormal cervical spine stress per year. The high school student may even spend an extra 5000 hours in poor posture per year.
These findings are not surprising to Chiropractors who spend their time caring for people experiencing pain or discomfort due to repetitive flexion for smart phone use. Chiropractors also understand the significance of abnormal spine and posture on the nervous system and hormones. Abnormal posture leads to lowered testosterone, lowered serotonin, increased cortisol and reduced feelings of power. Good posture is associated with a better balance of the nervous system and hormones. Chiropractors improve posture with every adjustment delivered.
In a world governed by technology, Chiropractic can help offset the negative influence of poor posture due to cell phone and computer use. Proper care for the spine and neck prove to be essential for better quality health and longevity.