Love checking your emails or Instagram on the go, many times throughout the day? Maybe it’s time to think about what looking down at your smartphone can do your posture.
Did you know that using smart devices can double or triple the weight of your head and can strain your neck? Surgeons call it the “Text neck” – disk hernias and alignment problems particularly common among young patients who shouldn’t be yet getting neck or back issues.
What is causing it?
Smart devices are changing the way we access information, share and communicate with each other at an instant. But the way we use them affects our posture and body mechanics in unhealthy ways that contribute to neck, upper back and shoulder pain. There is a whole list of injuries you might be giving yourself by staring at your phone for hours every day – from tight neck muscles to hunched back, from sore thumb to bad eyesight.
If you are reading this article on a smartphone or tablet, you are probably doing it right now: Tilting your head forward and down at around 45 degrees in order to look at your device. When we hold our head in a healthy, neutral position, the forces to the cervical spine are about 4-5 kg. The problem is when we tilt our head forward that much – it gives a strain above 22 kg.
Here are my simple and easy tips how to avoid the negative effects on your posture…
It’s the way you hold your neck
When using your smartphone or tablet, try to keep it at eye level. It might feel a bit awkward at first, but it will force you to hold your head and neck at a neutral position. Use two hands and thumbs for supporting the phone and navigating it, to create a more symmetrical and comfortable position for the spine.
Avoid using your phone for more than a quick look when you’re out and about. It’s ok to give a quick glimpse at the screen, but if you need to do some work, find a comfortable place to sit like in a cafe, on a bench or even better – a desk. Hold your phone in front of your face with your both hands and make sure you’re not experiencing any physical discomfort.
Take a break from your smartphone
Give yourself breaks and stay away from your phone and tablet on the weekends or at least the evenings. Use the time to spend it with your family and close people, or even make new friends when you’re out. This will give your neck and shoulder muscles time to rest and heal.
During the week days, you can use specially designed apps which give alarming signals to the users to avoid prolonged looking-down posture.
Get a massage
If you already feel uncomfortable strain on your neck, don’t leave it untreated. The pain can easily become chronicle. Try massaging your neck by pressing with the fingers of both hands. Work your way down starting from the top of your neck to where it meets your shoulders. Repeat several times and finish with a few gentle neck stretches rotating your head side to side, front to back.
If this is not enough and you still feel the aches from using your smartphone, book an appointment for a professional massage. You will see what a huge difference a good relaxing massage can do for your posture.