In 2015, medical experts began to publicly warn smartphone users to practice proper viewing posture, or suffer the repercussions. Looking down at your smartphone will result neck pain back pain depression and a plethora of other health impairments.
Medical Diagnosis: Tech Neck, A Global Spinal Health Epidemic
Spine surgeons in Canada and the US are noticing an increase in patients with neck and upper back pain, likely related to poor posture during prolonged smartphone use. Some patients, particularly young patients who shouldn't yet have back and neck issues, are reporting disk hernias and alignment problems.
It's the way you hold your neck
Previous studies indicate that people hold their necks at around 45 degrees, and it becomes even worse as they sit, versus standing. The impact on the spine increases at higher flexed postures.
While in a neutral position looking forward, the head weighs 4.5 to 5.5 kilograms. At a 15-degree flex, it feels like 12 kilograms. The stress on the spine increases by degree, and at 60 degrees, it's 27 kilograms. "For today's users, will an eight-year-old need surgery at age 28?" Lanman asks. "In kids who have spines that are still growing and not developed, we're not sure what to expect or if this could change normal anatomies.”
How much heavier is the human head when tilted forward?
Dr. Kenneth Hansraj, a US physician, conducted research to indicate that although our heads weigh between 10lb and 12lb, as we angle them down to look at our phones, the effective weight on our necks increases – at a 15-degree angle it is about 27lb rising to 60lb at 60 degrees.
With smartphone users now spending an average of two to four hours a day with their heads dropped down, this results in “700 to 1,400 hours a year of excess stresses seen about the cervical spine”, according to the research.
Sammy Margo, from the UK’s Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, says she thinks “text neck” is on the rise. “People carry out their lives by text, they get carried away and don’t realise they need a break.” This can cause “head pain, neck pain, arm pain and numbness,” she points out, because “a normal standing position is facing forward and all the curves of your neck and spine are in correct alignment. But when you drop your chin on to your chest for a long period you are stretching the whole structure. Eventually, in conjunction with a sedentary lifestyle, it could lead to serious consequences.”
“It is difficult to recommend a proper posture for smartphone users. If we raise the phoneat eye level to avoid the look-down posture, it will add new concerns for the shoulder due to the elevated arm posture”.
Gwanseob Shin of the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology Ergonomics Lab in South Korea, Daily Mail
The unnatural positioning required to self-support a smartphone at eye level (as recommended globally by Physicians, Orthopaedic Surgeons and chiropractors) for prolonged periods results in chronic pain.