Chances are that you probably haven’t given much thought to how your neck and back are faring in the era of the smart phone, but studies show that you most certainly should. It’s practically a reflex these days to pull out our smart phones when we’re standing in line, sitting at the airport or riding the subway. And while it’s great that we rarely need to venture beyond our pockets for entertainment, our bodies are beginning to retaliate—and mourn the pre-texting days.
So, what exactly are these contemporary conveniences doing to our bodies? A surgeon-led study that published in Surgical Technology International assessed what impact surgeons’ head and neck posture during surgery—a posture similar to that of smart-phone texters—has on their cervical spines. With each degree that our heads flex forward (as we stare at a screen below eye level), the strain on our spines dramatically increases. When an adult head (that weighs 10 to 12 pounds in the neutral position) tilts forward at 30 degrees, the weight seen by the spine climbs to a staggering 40 pounds, according to the study.
How pervasive of a problem is this? According to the study, the average person spends 14 to 28 hours each week with their heads tilted over a laptop, smart phone or similar device. Over the course of a year, that adds up to 700 to 1400 hours of strain and stress on our spines. As a result, the number of people dealing with headaches, achy necks and shoulders and other associated pain has skyrocketed.
Trained to address postural changes and functional declines, physical therapists are well-versed in treating this modern-day phenomenon, widely known as “text neck.” Over time, this type of poor posture can have a cumulative effect, leading to spine degeneration, pinched nerves and muscle strains. Scheduling an appointment with a physical therapist can help people learn how to interact with their devices without harming their spines. The PT will prescribe an at-home program that includes strategies and exercises that focus on preserving the spine and preventing longterm damage.
Exercise is an important part of taking care of our spines as we age, but what we do when we’re not in motion matters, too. So next time you pick up your smart phone or curl up with your e-reader, do a quick check of your head and neck posture. Your body will thank you for years to come.
"My wife was trying to get me to go to A2 after she was enjoying the classes. I am busy and wanted to go but always had an excuse. Well one she pre-paid for me to go. Time for me to face my fears about why I hadn’t been going because now I am going. First, I was in ok shape active just not work out shape plus what if I couldn’t beat my wife or the other women in class? What if I passed out?
As Saturday approached my fears rose and my brain searched for an excuse. Yet when I arrived at the class what I found was nothing like I was fearing, quite the opposite. Everyone is focused on their own pace. While being motivating Kristi is not forceful but positive and supportive, coaching each person at their ability.
It has not been a month of one day a week, my body has reacted by toning up, my six pack is back. My wife was mad and happy at the same time. I have been seeing a chiropractor for maintenance and recently my body is firming up and I do not feel the aches and pains of getting older. Was I sore after the first workout? Yes for a few days I was sore, but each week the soreness would decrease. After a month I am not sore but stiff the next day, feeling stronger each workout.
Thank you, A2 Physical Therapy and Kristi, for the good music and for pushing us without pressuring us."
"Two words…WOW! Amazing! These two words encompass everything that is A2 Physical Therapy is. Put aside the beauty of the business, the immaculate cleanliness and exquisite equipment. More important is the quality of care that you revive here. The extensive knowledge and the actual sure care that provide is fantastic. You will be, as I have been, in great hands as the work to achieve the goals you will set together. It is a true joy to be a part of this “family”! Thank you A2!"
"I had a lot of fear after surgery, afraid that I would not regain mobility and strength. I feel that A2 helped me achieve a higher plateau of health, motion, and strength than I would’ve achieved elsewhere. Also, A2 has taught me the exercises to go even further, to strengthen and mobilize my shoulder. I fully trust A2 and will recommend them to all my friends, family, and coworkers. They have all treated both me and my wife with a gentle kindness that is rare today and have made us feel welcome in their care. Very professional, but with a sense of caring; that is how I would describe A2. I will miss them all and am very grateful to have been in their hands."