When you are spending a lot of time looking down at your phone you are putting a lot of pressure on the spine. The average human head weighs around 4.5 to 5.5kg. In his study, Dr Hansrai found that bending your head forward at a 60 degree angle to look at your phone can put another 27kg of pressure on your neck. What do you think this does to your neck and surrounding structures long term?
"The weight seen by the spine dramatically increases when flexing the head forward at varying degrees," write the authors in the study. "Loss of the natural curve of the cervical spine leads to incrementally increased stresses about the cervical spine. These stresses may lead to early wear, tear, degeneration and possibly surgeries."
Of course there are varying degrees of increased pressure depending on the angle of the head:
- 15 degrees leads to 12kg increased pressure
- 30 degrees leads to 18kg increased pressure
- 45 degree leads to 22kg increased pressure
For those that have seen me in practice would have seen the posture program that I use during the initial examination. The report from this posture assessment shows the weight difference that can occur with forward head carriage (carrying your head forward). I find people are always surprised by the results.
When you are in ideal posture, your body is most efficient. The normal “s-shaped” curve when seen from the side is very efficient. The muscles work minimally to maintain the posture. Once you start to lose this posture, muscles suddenly have to work harder to maintain the position and this is what this research shows. The same is true for the low back. Try this simple exercise:
- Stand up and get in a good postural position with ankles, knees, hips, shoulders and ears lined up. See how your lower back feels.
- Now lean forward slightly from your hips. You will feel the muscles in your lower back start to tighten as they work hard to stop you from falling forward. It doesn't take much to get them firing and working hard does it?
The authors of this study wrote "While it is nearly impossible to avoid the technologies that cause these issues, individuals should make an effort to look at their phones with a neutral spine and to avoid spending hours each day hunched over".
In part 2 of this series I will show you a simple test to try to see what effect this poor posture has had on your body. I will also show you some simple ways to help counteract the problem stemming from all of the technology we use. There are some simple things you can do to help and ways of minimising the problems associated with technology. Stay tuned…