Does the above cartoon look like you when you’re on your hand-held device? The world is advancing at an alarming rate and with it, the technology is getting better and better. As time goes by, we find ourselves more reliant on our hand-held and mobile devices. Although these devices make our lives easier, they also contribute to spinal damage. Is my smartphone or tablet causing spinal damage? The short answer is yes.
How is my handheld device causing spinal damage?
Most hand-held devices are designed to be held in your hand, hence the name. However, they tend to have a little bit of weight to them which over the extended period of use can begin to feel heavy. This forces you to seek support for that arm holding the device, whether it be the arm of a chair or a table, or maybe your leg. This causes you to look down at the device. This puts you in forward head projection and causes your shoulders to round. Holding this position for any amount of time can lead to a weakness in your posture. Have you ever seen Herbert, the old man from Family Guy when he’s walking with his walker? When you continually hold your device in such a way that it promotes poor spinal posture , you are in danger of ending up like him.
Think about this. For every degree you tilt your head forward, you are adding a pound of pressure to your spine. The way most people hold their cell phones or tablets can put up to 60 additional pounds of pressure on your spine. The Guardian, a British news publication, provided a fantastic graphic to demonstrate this.
But I need to multi-task!
In this busy world, we all tend to try to do several things at once. We talk on the phone while we’re typing on our laptop or tablet. If you’re not using your speakerphone function or your headphones, which the phone company so generously supplied to you, you may find yourself trying to wedge your phone in between your head and your shoulder in order to continue to work. This action can cause spinal damage as well. When you are constantly putting your neck in a side-bending position, you are causing misalignments (subluxation). This can lead to an imbalance in your muscles and you’ll notice your head will start to constantly tilt and eventually if untreated you could look like the picture below.
Not only is this bad for your health, but it is unsightly.
What are some things I can do to prevent spinal damage from using my hand-held devices?
I know it might be hard but try to limit your use of your devices. If that is not an option, think about using your headphones when answering calls. Also, when texting or viewing social media, make sure that you are holding the phone up so that your neck is in a neutral position not tilted or bent forward. Doing these simple things can minimize neck and back pain as well as promote good spinal posture.
For more information or to talk about exercises, you can do to strengthen your spine email Dr. B at [email protected].