There’s no getting around it: Internet technology is here to stay. It’s a part of our social lives, and for many, it’s a part of working life as well. We gain many benefits from our …
Technology and the Spine—Am I Affected?
There’s no getting around it: Internet technology is here to stay. It’s a part of our social lives, and for many, it’s a part of working life as well. We gain many benefits from our computers and smart devices, but they may also be causing us some physical harm. However, it doesn’t necessarily have to be that way. In fact, by making some simple adjustments, you can avoid much of the wear and strain caused by poor posture and neck craning while using devices.
Texting and the Neck
Smartphones have become a ubiquitous part of everyday life in the United States: we turn to our phones for everything from communication to social media to getting directions to our next destination. But could all of the time we spend craning our necks to send a text message have a negative impact on our bodies?
As it turns out, it very likely does. In fact, a study published in the Surgical Technology International estimates that tilting the head forward to use a smartphone puts about 60 pounds of additional stress on the neck. Though the exact effects of this additional strain are not known, the average American spends about an hour per day looking at their smartphone, which may cause significant wear in the long term.
Spine and Posture in the Workplace
We’ve all heard warnings about the stress that sitting at a computer all day can put on our bodies, but what does that toll really look like? Beyond the ill effects of remaining in a sedentary position all day, the poor posture that’s common for office workers who spend all day hunched over a keyboard can lead to a host of health problems, including back and neck pain, degenerative disc disease, and sciatica.
Avoiding and Treating Problems
Of course, we’ve all imagined a life in which we ditch our smartphones and workplace computers, but for most people, that’s probably not a viable option. But when it comes to reducing the strain put on your neck and spine by technology, there are actions you can take that are effective.
To begin with, focus on keeping your head aligned with your shoulders and hips. This may require some adjustments—for example, in the placement of your keyboard, or the angle at which you hold your smartphone—but your neck and back will thank you.
If you work at a computer all day, you should seriously consider seeking out an ergonomic, supportive chair. Take breaks from sitting whenever possible. Performing occasional stretches and simple exercises may also help.
For more on how technology may be affecting your spine—and what you can do about it—give us a call at PMR today!