Let’s talk about something that we are ALL guilty of — myself included. “Texting Neck” is seen literally everywhere in the United States and it can actually be harming you! Yes, the human neck is designed to flex forward, but holding this position for periods of time is unnatural and can have several adverse effects, as seen in the photo. Ok, so your head won’t literally fall off but the numbers listed do have credibility to them. In a study published in Surgical Technology International, Dr. Kenneth Hansraj showed that looking down at your phone puts ample amounts of unnecessary stress on the cervical spine. He found that “at zero degrees of tilt, the resting pressure is equal to the weight of the person’s head: roughly 10 to 12 pounds. But for each 15 degrees of tilt, the pressure increases. At 15 degrees, a person feels 27 pounds of pressure; at 30 degrees, it ups to 40 pounds; at 45 degrees, 49 pounds; and at 60 degrees, a person should feel roughly 60 pounds of force on the spine” (Medical Daily). This, in addition to your already questionable posture (yes I’m looking at you), can actually cause several problems including: early wear and tear, degenerative changes, headaches, and loss of your cervical spine’s natural curve. Yikes. Any and all of those effects spell out pain for me.
What exactly is proper posture then? Simply put: standing tall with your chest out, shoulders back, and chin slightly tucked. Your spine is in it’s optimal position to carry weight when your shoulder blades are retracted and your ears are over your shoulders. Without proper posture, your spine encounters the unnecessary stresses we spoke about above and other systems of your body are affected in order to compensate for the imbalance. Muscles can tighten and cause pain in an effort to correct your spinal misalignment. Good posture, however, can have a slew of health benefits beyond avoiding pain in your back. You can actually increase levels of testosterone and serotonin while decreasing levels of cortisol (stress hormone). Bad posture creates so many of the recurring problems we see in our office and taking small, conscientious steps to correct this will help you in more ways than you think. So no, I will not ask you to stop posting pictures of your food or tweeting about the guy that cut you off on the Parkway, but I will remind you to do it as ergonomically as possible! Hold you phone at, or near, eye level to avoid flexing your neck too much. Answering your boss’s emails or texting your wife to tell her you don’t actually like her lasagna works just as well in front of your face as it does hunched over. Stay Well.