Submitted by Mindful Ease Chiropractic
Have you ever thought about the way you hold yourself when you’re texting or using your smartphone? Most people adopt a hunched over position—shoulders slumped and rounded; upper back hunched; and neck jutted forward, holding the head out in front of the body. While this posture is okay for a few minutes here and there, many people spend more time on their phone than they realize. Studies have shown that people spend twice as much time on their phones than they estimate they do. Young adults spend up to a third of their waking time on their phones.
This amount of time negatively affects how we hold ourselves throughout the day, not just while we are on our phones! Doctors have begun calling this “texting neck,” otherwise known as anterior head carriage. This is defined as carrying the head out in front of the body (ideally your ears should line up with your shoulders). Holding this posture creates a lot of stress and tension along the spinal cord and in the body!
Your neck has a natural curve, which is the ideal position for the spinal cord and nervous system. In this neutral position, your head weighs 10–12 pounds. But once your head starts getting out in front of your body, it effectively weighs much more. When your head is 15 degrees forward, it effectively weighs 27 pounds; at 30 degrees forward, it is 40 pounds. In extreme cases, it can effectively weigh up to 60 pounds! Not surprisingly, this creates muscle tension, tightness, and pain. Many people experience tension headaches. It also leads to fatigue because it takes a lot of energy to hold such a heavy head like that!
Holding your head out in front of your body means the natural curve in your neck is reduced. This leads to nervous system stress because the spinal cord is stretched. A stressed spinal cord has many implications, including shoulder, arm, and hand pain and numbness. It also can lead to spinal disc herniation and early arthritis. It can even create TMJ issues. When your head is out in front of your body, your upper body tends to collapse because your shoulders are rounded forward, and the upper back becomes hunched. This posture reduces the amount of air your lungs can take in, and it compresses your digestive system and associated organs in your abdomen. This position also creates pain in your upper and lower back.
“Texting neck” or anterior head carriage is becoming an epidemic given the amount of time we are on our phones holding our bodies in such a poor position. In adolescents with growing spines, it can create permanent damage, as their bones are still reaching maturity. Yikes!
Chiropractic works with the spine to bring you back into an upright and neutral position. This alleviates the stress on the spinal cord and brings the body back into the position it was designed to have! This allows our bones, muscles, and nervous system to function normally again. Better mood, less fatigue, less pain, decreased risk of disc tearing and herniation, better breathing, and better digestion are just a few of the benefits of having an upright and neutral spine and spinal cord! You may also receive stretches and exercises to re-train and relax the muscles that have been stressed by holding your head out in front of your body.
Chiropractic, exercise, stretching, and being aware of your smartphone use and posture can go a long way to being and feeling your best!
Dr. Freda Tyson is the owner of Mindful Ease Chiropractic in Davenport. She specializes in gentle and effective chiropractic care with no popping or cracking of the neck or spine. For more information or to schedule a free consultation, call 563-349-4652, e-mail
firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.mindfuleasechiro.com.
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