Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Smart phone use can cause WHAT?

From the desk of Christopher B. Renne, DC

March 14, 2017

Hello again friends.

Dr. Chris here.  Hopefully you are having a great day and a great week, and enjoying all the 2017 had to offer.  I known I am!

Today, I wanted to revisit an old topic, a personal favorite of mine.  As you all know, the world has been taken over by smart phone use.  I wanted to re-share some information that you may find helpful regarding your cell phone and what frequent use can do to your posture and physical well being.

Good posture is a paramount importance to a healthy spine.  In my office, we always encourage patients to spend their work day in front of computer to concentrate on improving their posture.  Being hunched in front of a screen 8 hours a day most certainly can contribute to a spine and neck pain even in someone who is otherwise active and healthy.

These days it is not just office workers who are craning their neck stare at a tiny screen:  If anyone with a cell phone, a tablet, and a data plan.  That is certainly bad news for our spines, according to a research performed by Dr. Kenneth Hansraj, Chief of Spine Surgery at New York Spine Surgery & Rehabilitation Medicine.  In this CBC news article the study reported some alarming results:  “People spend an average of 2 to 4 hours each day with their neck bent at this a natural angle plus shooting of emails or texts.  That is 700 to 1,400 hours a year”.  

Let me restate that, that is up to 1,400 hours a year staring at tiny screen! and the study found that being slumped over your smart phone greatly increases the amount of weight your neck and back have to support:

“Dr. Hansraj’s study found that bending your neck at a 60 degree angle to get a better look at your self use putting 60 pounds worth of pressure on your cervical spine, the portion of the spine above your shoulders.  That is more than the weight of your average 7-year-old.”

But even if you are hunched over at a 60 degree angle you can still be putting a lot of stress on your spine:

“Tilting your head even at 15 degrees puts 27 pounds of pressure on your spine; a 30 degree neck tilt equals 40 pounds of pressure; a 45 degree tilt adds to force of 49 pounds.”

Poor posture does not just look bad, it can cause lots of problems:  But it is not just a big slump that could eventually cause you to look like lurch:  “Loss of the natural curve of the cervical spine leads to incrementally increase stresses about the cervical spine.  These stresses may lead to early ware, tear, and degeneration (arthritis of the spine), and possibly surgical intervention.”

As any good chiropractor knows, bad posture has been linked to host medical problems, including headaches and other neurological problems, depression, constipation, and heart disease.  At a minimum, constant slouching is likely to cause a lot of chronic pain.

What can you do ?

Well, you can try to spend less time staring at your iPhone.  May be its time to pickup the phone and call that friend instead of sending another text.  When you do need to use your phone to text or email, try to maintain a neutral position:  Back straight, shoulders in line with your ears, and your shoulder blades pulled back.

There are lots of downsides of poor posture, there are lots of upsides to good posture:  Other studies have found good posture elevates testosterone and serotonin in the body and also reduces levels of the stress hormone cortisol.  Good posture has even been linked to personality traits such as tolerance for risk taking.

This is an excellent reminder that it is important to be mindful of our posture no matter what we are doing.  Sitting straight up in the office all day wound to us any good if we are spending a couple hours slouched over sending texts as soon as we go home.

Next time you pull out your smart phone, pay attention how you hold yourself while you are using it.  Try and get in a habit of keeping your spine in a neutral position while texting or emailing.  Who knows, you might find that you start feeling better and feeling better about yourself if you do so.

I hope you found the above information useful and modestly entertaining.  As always, I am grateful you have taken the time to read this information and I hope that you will share with those that you love.

Be well !

Christopher B. Renne, D.C.
Chiropractic Physician
Board Certified Integrative Medicine
Florida #CH7715

NOTE:  Dr. Christopher Renne is a Jacksonville, Florida based Chiropractic Physician.  He has been in active practice since 1998 and specializes in the treatment of spinal related pain.  He has been a Jacksonville resident since 2000.

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