We all text, many times a day. The incredible machines in our hands are a vast window for us where we find anything and everything. But we pay dearly. New research suggests that we might be harming our spine more in this way than any other.
Normally our head on our shoulder exerts a weight of almost 10 – 12 lbs or around 5 kilograms on the spine. This is when the head is not tilted at all. But while looking at a smartphone; one that everyone carries, the head tilt is greater and may almost increase up to 60 degrees, increasing the total weight up to an astounding 60 pounds. That is almost equal to 30 kilograms.
The research was led by Kenneth Hansraj who is chief of spine surgery at the reputed New York Spine Surgery and Rehabilitation Medicine. According to his study, the amount of stress created by this “text neck” is almost synonymous to carrying an 8 year old kid around the neck for several hours a day, every day. With just one degree increase in neck posture, gravity works up the stress to double.
Hansraj gave us an estimate of how many hours a day, a person uses his cell phone. “People spend an average of two to four hours a day with their heads tilted over reading and texting on their smartphones and devices. Cumulatively this is 700 to 1,400 hours a year of excess stresses seen about the cervical spine.”
That is what Hansraj believes to be true for adults, according to him, teenagers can spend upto 5,000 hours on the phone, stressing his or her spine.
“The problem is really profound in young people,” he said. “With this excessive stress in the neck, we might start seeing young people needing spine care. I would really like to see parents showing more guidance.”
The author believes that this is an epidemic which we need to take seriously. If we do not change our postures, we may end up stressing our spine so much that it may harm us in profound ways by speeding up the normal process of wear and tear by several fold.
These stresses may lead to early wear, tear, degeneration, and possible surgeries,” Hansraj concludes in his study that was published in the National Library of Medicine.