It’s no secret that almost everyone has a smartphone. In fact, a series of surveys by The Pew Institute in 2015 showed that 64% of American adults now own a smartphone of some kind. They keep us connected, offer us flexibility, and provide us with access to endless information.
They have their drawbacks. Smartphones also do a number on your spine.
Frequently hunching over your phone, texting, surfing, or reading takes a toll on your spine in numerous ways.
According to spine surgeon Kenneth Hansraj, looking down at your smartphone exerts up to 60 pounds of pressure on your head. This is serious wear and tear, and can set you up to be a prime candidate for degenerative issues.
The motion of texting or surfing the net on your smartphone can cause tightness in your shoulders, and pain radiating down your arms into your wrists and hands. Too many hours spent on your device can also cause upper and lower back pain.
Over time, your smartphone usage may damage your upper back to the point you begin dealing with muscle spasms, often attributed to "text neck."
Instead of woefully shutting you beloved smartphone in a drawer, vowing to never use it again, realize there are ways to keep your phone and a healthy spine intact. You just need to take a few simple precautions. Here are four ways to prevent spinal issues from smartphone usage, and handle the ones you may already have.
#1: Be aware of your posture.
A few small changes to the way you use your smartphone can be the difference in ensuring your spine, neck, and back don’t end up suffering. Bring your phone up in front of your face, instead of leaning your head over and bending your neck to see your screen. This will keep the pressure off your neck, and minimize issues that could result.
#2: Take breaks.
Get off that phone, there’s a whole world out there! Avoid the temptation of keeping your nose stuck in your phone for an hour or more. Keep your surfing and texting to a few minutes at a time. Lay down your phone, stand up, or simply look around at your surroundings every few minutes. Frequent breaks give your spine a chance to relax, and relieve the pressure of bending your neck for a long period.
#3: Practice stretching.
Get in the habit of stretching your neck, raising your arms, rolling your shoulders, and twisting your back at the waste. These easy stretches are a quick way to loosen up body parts that can tighten up and cause injury over time.
#4: Visit a chiropractor.
If you begin noticing pain, spasms, or irritation in your neck, shoulders, or back that lingers, make an appointment with a professional chiropractor. Explain when the pain occurred, the severity, and the activity that started it. You may only require a simple adjustment to get re-aligned and gain relief from pain caused by overuse of your smartphone. A good chiropractor can also help decrease the chances of the injury worsening over time.
Nary a one of us are going to swear off our smartphones because of pain. However, by following these tips, improving our posture, and taking frequent breaks to stretch, we will be able to minimize the impact our phone obsession has on our spine. If you overdo it, make sure you get to an experienced chiropractor for an adjustment, so the issue is kept to a minimum.