Personal Communication Devices such as the “smartphone” have become part of everyday life. For 2017, the number of smartphone users in the United States is estimated to reach 222.9 million, with the number of smartphone users worldwide forecast to exceed 2 billion. The smartphone is an amazing invention, however doctors around the world are starting to see the effects of smart phone “abuse” in their patients.
The human head weighs approximately 8-15 pounds (dependent on the size of the person). If the head is moved forward, the bio-mechanics of the spine are changed. This causes the weight of the head to increase exponentially. This change in head position also creates a great amount of stress on the rest of the body. For example, at a 15-degree angle, the weight of the head increases to about 27-30 lbs. For every inch your head is tilted forward, it adds another 10 lbs. What holds your head? Your spine!
If the position of the head moves forward and stays there, the resulting condition is called “Forward Head Posture”. Forward Head Posture or “FHP” shifts the body’s center of gravity. This creates a domino effect as parts of your skeletal frame must shift to compensate for this extra weight. FHP is not normal – the human form was meant to be upright (not slouched or stooped over).
Smartphone users spend an average of 2-4 hours per day on their devices, reading e-mails, sending texts or checking social media sites. This high level of usage can create a problem called “Text Neck”.
Text neck is the term used to describe the neck pain and damage sustained from looking down at your cell phone, tablet, or other wireless devices too frequently and for too long. Children and teens are especially at risk for suffering symptoms of text neck
While using smart phones, tablets, or other electronic devices by themselves don’t cause you harm, it’s the posture we inevitably assume while using these devices that is causing serious damage to necks, shoulders, and spines all over world.
The increased use of electronic devices has led to all kinds of postural and musculoskeletal problems. Many people experience back pain and repetitive strain injuries, because of the way they access their technological devices. Often patients ignore the pain or think it is just normal and part of everyday life.
Left unchecked, bad ergonomics/posture can cause problems in the spine, muscles, ligaments and joints. Poor habits learned as children or young adults, can become serious as we grow older.
Back pain and repetitive strain injuries can be prevented and treated. When you are using, electronic devices be aware of your body positioning. Do not hunch over or look down at your smartphone for long periods of time. Poor body positioning leads to muscle pain and puts strain on your spine. Over time (& without correction) Forward Head Posture can become permanent. The improper position of the neck translates to the rest of the body. The postural imbalance can cause dysfunction and pain throughout the entire body. Poor posture can wreak havoc on your health and cause chronic pain. Proper skeletal alignment and good posture is essential to health. Pain is often the last symptom to appear. Exercise is often not enough to overcome the damage done by straining, slouching and bending to “see” our electronic screens
To avoid injury, we need to ensure that we are conscious of our bodies and how they align with the electronic device we are using. The chair we sit on, the desk the computer is on, and how our arms and legs are resting as we type on our devices are all important. We also need to make sure we are not straining your eyes and twisting our neck to see the screen. Devices must be at eye level, and make sure the rest of your body is not being put in a comprised position.
Here are some tips and exercises for avoiding the pain and discomfort that can come with smartphone use.
- Take breaks– when using the smartphone, tablet, or computer (every 20-30 minutes).
2.Do exercises– Stretch, move your body, keep your joints and muscles limber.
3.Set up a work station with proper ergonomics and a good chair.
4.Use the dictation feature on your device instead of typing.
5.Use a headset with your phone.
- Come see us! – If you find yourself experiencing any of the above, consider visiting Ho’ala Natural Pain Relief clinic. We can help you with your pain and discomfort. We use Chiropractic, Massage, targeted exercises, fascial taping, cold laser therapy and supplements to bring your body back in to balance.