Technology consumes our lives for multiple hours a day — whether we are at work, emailing clients, catching up with our friends, or surfing the web, we are constantly on our phones, tablets, and computers. And while we have all seen the stats on how technology affects our sociability, what about how texting affects our spine and neck?
According to a recent study published in the Journal of Surgery Technology International, texting while sitting or standing has a lot of health drawbacks. The study, which was researched by Dr. Kenneth K. Hansraj, the chief of spine surgery at New York Spine Surgery & Rehabilitation Medicine, found that tilting our heads down and forward even slightly when we look at our smartphone screens can put as much as 60 pounds of stress on our necks and spines.
Yes, you read that right: 60 pounds!
An adult head, according to the study, weighs 10 to 12 pounds in the neutral position. But as the head tilts forward, the forces seen by the neck surges to “27 pounds at 15 degrees, 40 pounds at 30 degrees, 49 pounds at 45 degrees and 60 pounds at 60 degrees.”
The position of texting therefore puts significant excess stress on your spine. Add that to the amount of overall time you spend with technology, and there might be some big issues in the future. “Over the years, this may deteriorate the back and neck muscles to the point of pain and discomfort.” Dr. Hansraj explained to Livestrong.
Not so ironically, the spending for spinal care in the U.S. has doubled in the past decade, and according to the report, approximately $100 billion is spent in the U.S. per year on back and spinal care. There are some ways to practice better posture while you are texting or on your smartphone that can help you avoid pain in the long term.
According to Dr. Jonathan Stieber, orthopedic spine surgeon and clinical assistant professor of orthopedic surgery at NYU School of Medicine, there are ways to maintain good posture.
“Make sure you have the appropriate monitor, desk and chair height for you,” Steiber told Daily Burn. “You want to have the height of the chair so that your feet can rest comfortably on the floor and your knees are at or just below [the level of] your hips.”
And the easiest way to avoid text-neck? The key is holding your phone at a higher, more eye-level position so that you put less strain on your neck and are not slouched forward. “Bring the screen to eye level so your head is not slouched forward or too high,” Ryan Balmes, DPT and board-certified clinical specialist in sports and orthopedic physical therapy in Atlanta, told Daily Burn. “This way, you don’t have to be in a forward-head posture for a prolonged period of time.”
Another option would be to get a case that props your phone or tablet up so that you can, once again, avoid that extra strain that so many people suffer from after hours on end spent with electronics.