The damaging effect that excessive cellphone use can have on the human mind and body is a topic that has been discussed at length. However, the spinal problems that can come from the typical phone-reading posture is rarely a part of the discussion.
According to Dr. Kenneth K. Hansraj, chief of spine surgery at New York Spine Surgery & Rehabilitation Medicine, staring down at your phone all day is like having a 60-pound weight on your neck.
According to a paper recently published by Dr. Hansraj in the Surgical Technology International journal, “People spend an average of two to four hours a day with their heads tilted over reading and texting on their smartphones and devices. Cumulatively this is 700 to 1,400 hours a year of excess stresses seen about the cervical spine.”
The research also suggests that the average high school student could spend an additional 5,000 hours in this position.
“These stresses may lead to early wear, tear, degeneration, and possible surgeries,” Hansraj says in the paper.
Dr. Ezriel Kornel, a neurosurgeon with Brain & Spine Surgeons of New York, says that anyone who is on the phone all the time should consider limiting their use or at the very least take breaks.
“Maybe there should be an app that reminds people when they’ve been looking at their device for more than 15 minutes to take a break, stretch their necks, reposition and adjust. That’s an easy thing to do,” Kornel said.
“If you’re not going to text less, you have be aware of the way you position yourself vis-àvis your smart phone. Awareness is the number-one thing,” he added.
Kornel also suggested that people concerned about their posture should look into something called the Alexander Technique, which he described as “a form of training that makes you aware of optimal body positioning.”
Photo: Dr. Kenneth K. Hansraj