Advertising
Advertising

Using Your Smartphone Too Often Can Wreck Your Spine, Research Finds

Using Your Smartphone Too Often Can Wreck Your Spine, Research Finds

We are all guilty of checking our smartphones at every opportunity but are we really thinking about how the process of looking down at our phones is affecting our spine and back health?

“Text neck” is fast becoming one of the major causes of neck pain and we probably aren’t even aware of it. The modern epidemic is becoming a major concern for health experts including Kenneth Hansraj who has recently published new research into the detrimental effects our smartphones are having on our spines including wear-and-tear, bad posture and even corrective surgery.

How Checking Our Phones Affects The Spine

Kenneth Hansraj, chief of spine surgery at New York Spine Surgery and Rehabilitation Medicine, explains the impact constantly texting, emailing and checking social media from our phones really has on the back and spine. He explains that the average head weighs around 5.4 kg, our body is able to support this weight efficiently with good, straight posture but as we move the neck forward, the weight on the spine increases at each angle.

Advertising

health-problems-caused-by-smartphones

    With each angle, the amount of weight increases and puts immense pressure on our spine and back muscles. With a 60 degree neck angle, it’s a 60lb (around 27kg) weight pressure on the spine – to put that into context that’s like having an average 7 year-old child around your neck every time you look right down at your phone. For many of us that’s for several hours each day.

    It can also exacerbate an underlying condition such as pinched nerves or herniated discs as well as causing tension headaches.

    Advertising

    What Can We Do To Counteract This?

    Let’s face it, asking people to stop checking their phones is a big ask but being mindful of bringing your phone upwards so the neck angle isn’t as significant will make a big difference.

    However, there are simple exercises we can perform that you can do daily in order to help correct and negate the damage from text neck. Peforming these throughout the day will improve your posture, stretch out your back and spine, and promote a healthy alignment.

    1. Shoulder Blade Pinches

    Advertising

    screen-shot-2016-11-14-at-6-57-42-pm

      The slouching action we form when checking our phones is one of the major causes of neck pain. To counteract the slumping forward of the shoulders it’s good to force them back to stretch and strengthen the muscles in the upper back.

      • Sitting or standing with your back straight, draw your shoulder blades towards each other. You can interlock your hands behind your back for maximum stretch.
      • Hold this for a few seconds, release and repeat.
      • Try to perform 10 reps every hour throughout the day.

      2. Chin Tuck

      screen-shot-2016-11-14-at-6-57-50-pm

        This exercise is great for strengthening your neck muscles and also pulls the neck right back in to align with your back.

        Advertising

        • Stand tall or sit up straight while sitting, keeping your chin parallel to the floor.
        • Gently draw your head and chin back like you’re creating a double chin. You can use your fingers to push your chin back but make sure your head is facing forward and tilting in any direction.
        • Doing this gently, you should feel a stretch along the back of the neck.
        • Release your chin and repeat.
        • Do around 10 reps each hour.

        3. Doorway Stretch

        screen-shot-2016-11-14-at-6-57-58-pm

          You can stretch out your back muscles by making use of any doorway. This move counteracts the sunken chest from too much slouching.

          • Stand inside a doorway, bend your right arm at a 90 degree angle and place your forearm on the doorframe.
          • Position your bent elbow at shoulder height and rotate your chest left. You should feel a stretch in your chest and front shoulder.
          • Hold this for 30 seconds and repeat with the other arm.
          • Do this as often as possible throughout the day.

          4. Pec Stretch

          As with the exercise above you can also use both arms at the same time to get both a stretch around the front of your chest and straighten and align your shoulders to promote a straight spine.

          • Standing in the doorway with one leg out in front of you, place your arms at 90 degrees on each side.
          • Slowly push forward so you draw your shoulder blades together and feel a stretch along the front of your chest.
          • Hold for 30 seconds and repeat throughout the day.

          While checking our phones is a habit that’s hard to break, remember to be mindful of how often you do it and the position of your neck. Bring your phone up to eye-level as much as possible or now that you’re aware of the damage you could be doing to your neck and spine, try to make a conscious effort to check your phone less during the day.

          More by this author

          Jenny Marchal

          Freelance Writer

          Success In Reaching Goals Is Determined By Mindset How to Save a Bunch of Money Easily With This Simple Challenge 11 Killer Ways To Get Rid Of Roaches Without Harming You If You Understand These 5 Rules In Psychology, You Can Live A Much Easier Life How To Get Over Someone You Deeply Love

          Trending in Health

          1 13 Bad Habits You Need to Quit Right Away 2 Can You Stop Depression from Damaging Your Brain? 3 Why You’re Feeling Tired All the Time (And What to Do About It) 4 How to Practice Guided Meditation for Sleep to Calm the Mind 5 How To Overcome Anxiety and Feel More at Ease (Part 2)

          Read Next

          Advertising
          Advertising
          Advertising

          Last Updated on May 22, 2019

          10 Simple Morning Exercises That Will Make You Feel Great All Day

          10 Simple Morning Exercises That Will Make You Feel Great All Day

          There are lots of studies that show if you do some exercise in the morning, you will be in a better mood all day long. You will have more energy and you will certainly be a better colleague, friend or partner.

          One psychologist at Duke University has researched the effects of exercise on depressed patients and he has come to the conclusion that exercise has a definite role in treating this condition and has an important role in preventing people from relapsing.[1] According to the New York Times, scientists have now established that exercise also boosts your brain power.[2]

          In addition, there are studies from the Appalachian State University which show that blood pressure can be reduced by doing regular morning exercise.[3]

          Here are 10 simple morning exercises that will help you feel great the whole day long. You can include some of them in your morning exercise routine or do them all at home without having to enrol in a gym. Consult your doctor before starting any form of exercise routine if you are new to this.

          1. Cat Camel Stretch

          Stretching exercises are useful for muscle toning and also preventing arthritis. They can either be dynamic or static.

          Dynamic ones such as the cat camel stretch, are particularly useful for doing other exercises in the morning. They are also beneficial at other times of the day, especially after long periods of sedentary work. This one is great for spinal flexibility and is a good warm up exercise.

          Kneel down on all fours. Start by rounding your back just like a camel so that your head will try to meet your pelvis. This is the camel position. Then lower and lift your head so that your lower back is arched. This is the cat position. Do these movements slowly and smoothly. About 4 or 5 times.

          Here’s a video to guide you through:

          Advertising

          2. Go for a Walk or a Run

          This is better done outside so that you can connect with nature but running inside on a treadmill is almost as good. You can time yourself and increase length and time according to your fitness program.

          Always have new goals to reach. Start with brisk walking and work up to running. At my age, I am still walking!

          The health benefits are considerable. You can build stronger bones and you can help to maintain your weight.

          Also, you are helping your heart to stay healthy and keeping your blood pressure low.

          Learn more about the benefits of running here: 8 Benefits of Running 5 Minutes Every Day You Didn’t Know

          3. Jumping Jacks

          Michelle Obama is a great fan of this exercise and has become “Jumper in Chief.”[4] They are great for cardiovascular health and also for toning muscles especially the calves and the deltoids.

          Stand with feet together. Jump while spreading your arms and legs. Return to first position and keep going! You can start with doing these for 1 minute and then gradually build up to the number you are comfortable with. Here’s how:

          4. Abductor Side Lifts

          Watch the video below to see how to do this exercise. These muscles are important because you use them everyday to run, get into the car or onto and off a bicycle. They are very important also for your core stability and prevent the pelvis from tilting.[5]

          Advertising

          Do about 10 to 15 raises for each side like this:

          5. Balancing Table Pose

          This is a classic yoga pose. It benefits the spine, balance, memory and concentration.

          Start with the table pose (hands and knees). Breathe in before starting each movement. As you exhale, raise your left leg parallel to the floor as you raise the right arm, also parallel to the floor. Breathe in as you lower arm and leg. Repeat for the other side. 10 repetitions on each side is a good starting point.

          ablab

            6. Leg Squats

            Not just legs are involved but also hips and knees.

            Stand with your feet a bit further out from your hips. Arms are out in front of you. Then lower yourself as if you wanted to sit down until you reach a 90 degree angle. You can go down further if you want to. Then return to the starting position. Repeat 15 times for 2 sets for beginners.

            The benefits are that these exercises help with knee stability and can benefit the leg muscles such as quadriceps, hamstrings and calves.[6]

            7. Push Ups

            You start lying down (face down) but with your body held up at arm’s length. Your hands should be in line with your shoulders. Breathe in as you lower your body. That is fairly easy. Now, as you exhale, you have to get back up to the starting position.

            Advertising

            An easier version to start with is to bend your legs at the knees so you do not have to lift your whole body.

            Beginners may take up to a month to be able to do 100 push ups so you will have to start with a very small number and gradually increase it.

            This exercise is great for strengthening the chest, shoulders and the triceps. It is a great strengthening exercise for many muscle groups. In fact, most muscles from the toes to the shoulders are being used.

            8. Bicycle Crunches

            There are numerous crunch exercises targeting the abs. The bicycle crunch is a variation where you work more muscle groups. Aim for 15 to 20 reps to start off with.

            Watch the video to see how this is done correctly:

            9. Lunges

            Stand with feet shoulder width apart. Place your hand on your hips. Take one giant step forward with the right leg. Make sure the knee does not go too far forward, that is, past your toes. The left knee will go down to almost floor level. Alternate the legs as you go on.

            Try to do a set of between 8 and 12 reps for each leg. It is important to allow for a day of rest, so this exercise should be done on alternate days, especially if you are using weights.

            This exercise is great for strengthening and toning the quadriceps, glutes and hamstrings.

            Advertising

            10. Bicep Curls

            You can do this sitting down so if you spend a lot of time on the phone, this is a great exercise to do.

            Choose suitable dumbbells or another household object that you can easily hold. Sit down with the dumbbell in your hand. You need to sit forward a bit so that your triceps can lean on your thigh to give you support.

            Then bring the weighted arm up to shoulder length and then down again. Exhale as you lift the weight and inhale as you lower it.

            Here’re some important notes before you start doing this exercise:

            Try to do one or two sets of about ten repetitions for each arm and then switch arms.

            These exercises are really useful for toning the arm muscles.[7] In addition, they can strengthen and tone the brachioradialis muscle located in the forearm. These are the muscles we use to pick up things when we flex the arm at the elbow so we use these muscles countless times a day.

            You may have to build in a rest day for the heavier exercises, numbers 6–10. On the rest days, you can do gentler stretching exercises and also some walking or running.

            Morning exercise is not only a great mood booster, but will help you keep your weight down and also sleep better![8] Start including one or some of these exercises in your morning routine!

            More Articles About Exercises for Beginners

            Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

            Reference

            Read Next