Remember when a curved spine or a “dowager’s hump” were signs of old age? A new study by the New York Spine Surgery and Rehabilitation Medicine suggests that this affliction might just indicate that you’re too popular on social media.
Slumping and texting, slouching while Facebooking, and hunching over a Tablet can all lead to spinal issues. Holding the power of the universe in your hands can take a toll on your neck.
The average head weighs 10 to 12 pounds, but according to the study, “for each 15 degrees of tilt, the pressure increases. At 15 degrees, a person feels 27 pounds of pressure; at 30 degrees, it ups to 40 pounds; and at 60 degrees, a person should feel roughly 60 pounds of force on the spine.”
60 pounds! Take a moment and really think about that number. 60 pounds is the weight of an average 8 year-old child, or a full grown female German Shepherd. That’s also the approximate of weight of 33 pints of beer, 57 frozen pizzas, and 61 heads of romaine lettuce.
Strengthening Your Back With Exercise
Alan Hedge, Ph.D., director of Cornell’s Human Factors and Ergonomics Laboratory, has some suggestions for preventing what he calls “iPad neck” or “text neck.”
Raise Your Phone Higher.
If you read your emails or surf the Internet on a hand-held device, “lift it higher,” Dr. Hedge says. “If you’re reading at a table, rest your elbow on the table to hold it higher.” If propping up a device with your own arms is too problematic (or you’re just too lazy), there are also numerous Tablet stands and iPad mounts available online.
Do More Talking.
We don’t just mean calling people rather than emailing them—although that’s a worthwhile challenge, now that you mention it—Dr. Hedge means utilizing voice commands. “Dictate your emails and texts,” he says. “And hold your head up straight while talking to your device.”
Take Frequent Microbreaks.
“When you’ve finished an email or text, pause, and look straight ahead for 20 to 30 seconds,” says Dr. Hedge. He also recommends periodically shrugging your shoulders, raising your arms and rotating them at the shoulders, and “turning your head left and right to ease neck tensions.”
Get Neck Massages.
If you needed permission, now you have it. If your boss asks why you’re taking the afternoon off to get a massage, you can say, “The director at Cornell’s Ergonomics Laboratory told me to do it so I can avoid back surgery.” Who’s going to argue with that? You’re welcome!