ORLANDO, Fla. – You call it "checking my phone." Chiropractors call it “tech neck.” It’s becoming a common reason for neck and back pain, but, there are ways to avoid health problems now and later in life.
Georgette Robinson is starting to realize that technology can be a real pain in the neck
“My shoulder area is really always hard. I always contributed it to stress, but apparently it’s not stress, it’s because my posture, I’m not sitting properly,” Robinson said.
Tilting your head forward just 15 degrees puts an extra 15 pounds of pressure on your neck, and constantly repeating that is bad -- specially over time.
“And as a result, that muscle imbalance puts more strain on the joints in the neck. Over time that creates pressure on the nerves in the neck,” Steven Weiniger, DC, Chiropractor at BodyZone Roswell, said.
Weiniger says taking an annual posture photo can help you track it over time. He uses an app called “posture zone” to measure Kim Groves’ alignment and show her where she needs improvement.
“Your torso is two degrees to the right of your feet. Your pelvis is almost three degrees to the right of your feet. So your body is pulling back and leaning a tad forward,” he explained.
“Hardly ever do I think about the way I’m sitting or how I’m answering the phone,” Groves said.
While back and neck aches remind Groves to pay better attention to her posture, Weiniger said that’s only a good first step. Next change: your smartphone.
“The best way to use your phone is sitting tall, head level, back toward over your shoulders, shoulders back and down, elbows into your side, phone up so you’re looking straight ahead at it,” Weiniger said.
Other remedies for tech neck: stretch regularly and swap your chair for a medicine ball.
“Sitting well on a ball is great because it’s unstable and makes you balance. I’m less crazy about a lot of the chairs that give you back support and no support under the bottom,” Weiniger said.
Better posture equals better health, especially as we age. A study in the Journals of Gerontology found that seniors with bad posture are more likely to fall and are 3.5 times more likely to lose their ability to feed, bathe or dress themselves.
STORY BACKGROUND: Having your head buried in your phone all day can be a real pain in the neck. Chiropractors call it “tech neck” and say it’s becoming a common reason for neck and back pain. “Because of technology, we are using our bodies in ways human bodies were never designed,” says Atlanta chiropractor Steven Weiniger. Tilting your head forward just 15 degrees as you peer at your smartphone puts an extra 15 pounds of pressure on your neck and over time it takes a toll on your spine, your posture and your neck and back muscles, it could also be the reason for your chronic headaches. “It literally affects how people’s health is because your chest is compressed, you can’t breathe as well, your head is jutting forward,” Weiniger says. In order to keep your head balanced, your muscles are working harder. When Baylor University researchers looked at college students and tracked their cell phone usage they found that women spent 10 hours a day on their phones, the men were only somewhat better, reporting eight hours a day on their devices (Source: https://www.baylor.edu/mediacommunications/news.php?action=story&story=145864) . But it’s not just college students, more and more children as young as eight are starting to show signs of poor posture and neck pain which can lead to bigger health problems down the road. (Source:http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15204289)
SO WHAT CAN YOU DO? Ideally, you can throw your phone or tablet into the ocean and never use it again, but since that won’t happen it’s good to at least be aware of your posture as you’re texting and bring your smartphone up to eye level. “You want to have the head be level, not looking down, not looking up,” says Weiniger. If you have to use it for an extended period of time, take breaks. Develop a habit of taking a three-minute break for every 15 to 20 minutes you use your device. He also recommends using apps like PostureZone to take annual photos of how you stand and track your posture as you age. There are easy fixes you can do right now, like get up and stretch at least once an hour and sit on a medicine ball instead of an office chair. You can find other types of stretches and exercises here:
POOR POSTURE CAN AGE YOU: The posture and balance problems associated with aging are commonly
accepted as “part of getting old” and therefore are not treated. This is not necessarily true, poor posture not only molds muscles and ligaments, but over time actually causes the bones themselves to bend and collapse. A study in the “Journals of Gerontology” found that seniors with bad posture are more likely to fall and are three-and-a-half times more likely to lose their ability to feed, bathe or dress themselves.
For more information, contact:
Steven Weiniger, DC