Ground-breaking research helps explain the negative effects of consistently looking down at a smartphone. Computers and cell phones play a significant role in every industrialised nation. Deloitte’s Mobile Consumer Survey 2018: The Irish Cut, found that 97% of people have access to some form of a mobile phone. Irish smartphone users check their phones 55 times a day on average. The current state of cell phone usage comes with a new set of disease risks to the user.
Extended use of a cell phone with the head in forward flexion creates a variety of unwanted health challenges. Doctors have even created terminology for new conditions and diagnoses specific to this growing epidemic, particularly in younger populations.
A 2014 study published in the journal, Surgical Technology International, explained that the average person spends 2 hours to 4 hours a day with their head tilted forward, reading and texting on smart phones. Forward head carriage adds up to between 700 to 1,400 hours of excess abnormal cervical spine stress per year. High school students spend as much as 5,000 additional hours per year. Research also highlights the amount of stress and pressure placed on the neck when users consistently placed their head in forward flexion at varying angles to look down at a device.
“An adult head weighs 10 to 12 pounds in the neutral position. 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.” This extra pressure rests on the bones, muscles, joints, and discs of the neck. The average head position when looking at a smart phone registers at 60 degrees. This potential trauma amounts to putting four heavy bowling balls worth of pressure on the neck and spine with each minute of looking down at a cell phone. Forward flexion of the head and neck produces wear and tear on the joints and discs which leads to abnormal spinal posture, degeneration, and increases risks of neck pain and headaches, and may even have a negative impact on longevity. Poor posture due to computer and cell phone use also links directly to abnormal hormone release and balance.
Chiropractors devote time, study, and expertise to naturally relieving and restoring the body from conditions of pain and discomfort attributed to several maladies, including repetitive flexion from the overuse of electronic devices. Chiropractors also understand the significance of abnormal spine and posture on the nervous system and hormones. This same 2014 study also showed that abnormal posture can lead to lowered testosterone, lowered serotonin, increased cortisol and reduced feelings of power. Good posture associates with better balance within the nervous system and hormones. Chiropractors can improve posture with every adjustment administered to the neck and spine.
The presence and demand for technology to infuse in nearly every aspect of life coincides with an even greater need for regular Chiropractic care for every member of the family. Proper alignment and movement of the spine directly influences the health of the brain and central nervous system. Chiropractors help offset the negative influence of poor posture due to cell phone and computer use. Proper care for the spine and neck prove essential to overall health.
Three key action steps to minimising the risk of spine and neck abnormalities from technology use include:
1) A Chiropractic Adjustment Plan – adjustments reduce wear and tear in the joints and discs, lower tension in muscles, and improve function of the nervous system
2) Good Posture Habits – utilise tools that support spinal curves and posture when sitting
3) Head Positioning – keep devices elevated when texting or viewing to keep the head in a neutral position
Surg Technol Int. 2014 Nov;25:277-9. Assessment of stresses in the cervical spine caused by posture and position of the head.