Did you know that the human head weighs about a dozen pounds? But for every inch that the head tilts forward and bends down, the pressure on the spine significantly increases. At a 15-degree angle, this weight is about 27 pounds, at 30 degrees it’s 40 pounds, at 45 degrees it’s 49 pounds, and at 60 degrees it’s 60 pounds. Sixty pounds! That’s like carrying a husky around on your neck all day – ouch!
“A recent study published by the National Library of Medicine found that smartphone users spend as much as two to four hours per day, or 700-1400 hours per year hunched over their phones.” (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25393825). Over time, this constant positioning of the neck can lead to early wear-and-tear on the spine, muscle strain, pinched nerves, herniated discs, and early degeneration of the spine. It is not surprising the frequency of complaints of neck pain, shoulder pain and headaches is on the rise with more and more people, especially teenagers and younger folks.
Example of improper and proper head position.
Tips to take the stress off your neck
- Be aware of how you are using and hold your smartphone, small electronic devices and sitting at your computer.
- Bring the device up to you rather than looking down at the device.
- Try to look at the device with your eyes – not by taking your head down.
- Use the voice recorder function so you spend less time looking down to type.
- Be aware of how often you are using your device.
- Limit your time doing more time consuming activities on smaller devices – i.e. reading a book, searching the web, etc. Do these activities on your laptop or PC.
- Take breaks.
- Perform postural correction exercises (see below).
- Watch and be aware of your posture doing any activities.
Now that you know the tips to help eliminate stress off your neck here are two postural correction exercises you can easily do throughout the day.
You can do this standing or sitting. Start with your hands in front of your chest. Turn your palms away from you and pull elbows back and down – as if your elbows were reaching for your back pants pockets. Do not arch your low back, jut your chin out or lift your chest. Hold for 2-3 seconds. Repeat 4-5x.
Sitting or standing – start with your arms at your sides, palms facing in toward your body. Turn your arms out, reaching your thumbs towards the heels of your feet. Gently squeeze your shoulder blades together. Do not arch your back, jut your chin out or lift your chest. Hold 2-3 seconds. Repeat 4-5x.
Remember, watch and be aware of your posture during your daily activities.
A BIG THANK YOU to Amira Ranney, Director of Mountain Physical Therapy Services and voted best sports therapist in the southeast by Blue Ridge Outdoors for writing this article for our newsletter.