Dialing Trouble: Cell Phones, Your Spine, and Your Health
By Dr. Molly Casey
Cell phones are great, right? They offer us the ability to talk, text, email, and video. They also put at our fingertips entertainment and health tracking apps. They are a huge part of daily life. Sure, some elements of cell phone use are helpful and can absolutely contribute positively to the health and wellness of the users. However, there is also at least one very large downfall with relying so heavily on cell phones: Posture.
Yes, the way folks sit, stand, hold and look at one’s cell phone can dramatically affect their health because posture affects your health.
Cell Phone Posture
There are a few common postures when looking at the cell phone. While correcting the most common one can help dramatically to fix the other two, it’s important to pay close attention and address all habits if you find yourself engaging in them.
Head down - Most folks hold their cell phone below eye level so their head is consistently in a flexed or downward position. This may seem rather benign but one must realize that the human adult head weighs approximately 11 pounds, and holding the weight of a bowling ball for prolonged periods in that position is not what the body needs for maximal health or functioning. In fact, the farther your head moves forward or the more it’s tilted down, the pressure on the spine increases to the point it exerts up to 60 pounds of pressure in some cases.
The fix: Hold your cell phone at eye level and keep your head in a neutral position.
Head down and shoulders rounded over - The next posture mishap that accompanies a head down cell phone position is rounding the shoulders over and forward. This puts undue stress on the spine in the neck and upper back. Along with the bones, discs, and ligaments of the spine all sustaining extra pressure and weight in contorted positions, it also stretches the muscles of the neck and upper back and tightens/shortens the anterior muscles of neck and chest.
The fix: Hold your cell phone at eye level and pull your shoulder blades back and down toward your lower back.
Head down, shoulders rounded over and slouched back - When in a seated position looking down at the cell phone, another posture problem is a slouched low back. At this point all natural, healthy, and required curves of the spine are significantly contorted and the biomechanics of the spine are suffering immensely.
The fix: Hold your cell phone at eye level, pull your shoulder blades back and down toward your lower back, and pretend there is a string attached to the bottom of your sternum where your rib cage meets and it’s pulling you up. This exercise will automatically pull you into a proper sitting position. Also sit in a highly supportive chair. An easy fix is to sit on an exercise ball because most people don’t sit on these types of balls with poor posture.
The deviations can be small or large. Don’t kid yourself if your cell phone posture isn’t on point: it will have a negative effect. What matters most is the time spent in these positions.
Your posture directly affects the health of your spine and the health of your spine directly affects your internal communication system and overall health. So how you hold your cell phone matters, likely a lot more than you think. Get into The Joint Chiropractic and let one of the chiropractors there help you help yourself by learning and practicing the best cell phone posture for you!
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