The average person spends between 2 to 4 hours a day looking down at a smart phone or mobile device. That adds up to 14–24 hours a week, 56–124 hours a month and 700–1,400 hours a year! All those hours of texting, emailing and catching up on social media are beginning to manifest themselves in a rampant onset of neck and back pain from poor "smart phone posture." Continue reading to learn more about this endemic problem and how you can prevent it.
The Postural Problem
The typical weight of an adult human head is around 10 pounds when it is in the neutral or upright position. Unfortunately, most people look down or tilt their heads forward in order to get a better look at their mobile screen. As they do so, gravity adds to the weight of the head. In fact, research has shown that the pressure on the spine doubles for every inch the head is tilted past neutral.
This added pressure on the spine and surrounding neck muscles may generate several complications over time. Pinched nerves, muscle strain, headaches, and disc herniations are among the most common problems associated with this prolonged head and neck posture.
Prevent the Problem
Because smart phones and mobile technologies have become a vital part of our society, completely avoiding them is not a realistic form of prevention. However, there are several ways avoid the complications that come with spending time on these devices. First, make a conscious effort to maintain a neutral neck position when looking at your mobile screen. A good way to ensure you are not tilting your head is to roll your shoulders back and make sure your ears are directly over them.
Another suggestion for neck pain prevention is to stretch and strengthen the muscles of your neck and shoulders. Gently tilt your head so you are looking down at one shoulder and feeling a stretch in your neck. Hold the stretch for 10 seconds and then repeat the stretch on the other side.
Another good stretch is to sit up straight, roll the shoulders back and squeeze the shoulder blades together for 5 seconds and repeat the exercise 10 times. Finally, do a series of 10 chin tucks by pulling the head straight back, keeping the eyes and jaw level. Hold for 5 seconds then return to the neutral position.
You can receive more extensive treatment and information by visiting a physical therapist near you, such as Hillcrest Nursing Center.