Health

OMG! Hunching over smart devices stresses neck

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Poor posture causing ‘text neck’

By John J. Moss, M.D., medical director, Northside Hospital Spine Center

Here’s a “text” to save you a lot of neck pain. When using your smartphone or tablet, avoid tilting your head for prolonged periods of time.

As people around the world use their smartphone and tablet more and more, spine experts are seeing an increase in neck pain complaints.

But how bad is it? Well, in the upright or neutral position, the human head weighs about a dozen pounds.

As the neck bends forward and down, the weight on the cervical spine begins to increase. At a 15-degree angle, this weight is about 27 pounds, or the equivalent of two bowling balls.

At 30 degrees, it’s 40 pounds, at 45 degrees, it’s 49 pounds and at 60 degrees it’s 60 pounds, or the weight of four bowling balls or a seven-year-old child, according to data published by Dr. Kenneth Hansraj in the National Library of Medicine.

The average smartphone and tablet users spends two-to-four hours per day hunched over, reading e-mails, surfing the internet, playing games, sending texts or checking social media sites. That’s 700-to-1,400 hours per year putting stress on the spine.

It”s no secret that correct posture is better for your back. But this poor habit, sometimes called “text neck,” can lead to early wear-and-tear on the spine, degeneration and may even lead to surgery.

Your spine is your body’s natural shock absorber. When you scrunch it up (or over, as the case may be), you force the muscles and ligaments in your neck, back, shoulders and legs to compensate. Making them work out of their natural position makes you more prone to injury.

Be a smarter user of your smart device by pulling your device up more and look down with your eyes instead of tilting your head. Also pay attention to your posture

Dr. John J. Moss is medical director at the Northside Hospital Spine Center. The Spine Center & Pain Treatment Center in Forsyth County is located at 1100 Northside Forsyth Drive, Suite 400 in Cumming. For appointments, call 404-459-1809 (SPINE) and visit northside.com/spine for more information.