We all know that we probably spend too long on our smartphones and tablets. Research has indicated that the average time spent on our phones per day to be at 3hrs 15 mins (that's 35 days per year!), with millennials being even higher. We are also aware of the potential negative effects of continued screen usage on concentration, impact on sleeping, social disconnect etc. But this blog is not about that - it is about the impact on your physical health.
The average adult head weighs somewhere around 10-14lbs when we are standing straight and tall (that's about 4.5 - 6.5 kgs in new-money). Bottom line, it's quite heavy! But that's ok, our spinal column is perfectly designed to support this hefty load.
The problem lies with how much time we are now spending in a flexed position at the C7-T1 junction (this is the prominent bone at the base of your neck as it creates a junction with the upper back). This joint simply isn't designed to be held in this flexed position. Looking at the picture above showing how much additional stress is being forced onto this junction point for every additional 15 degrees of flexion. Chances are, you are probably reading this blog from your phone, in one of these positions. Which one is it for you?
When we maintain this flexed position it creates a 'knock-on' effect to our biomechanics, such as:
- Internally rotated shoulders, leading to reduced mobility and flexibility.
- Tight chest (due to shoulder positioning) and altered breathing capacity
- Stiff thoracic spine
- Muscular strain around the head, neck and shoulders - often causing pain and headaches
And to top it off, if this position is held for a long periods over many years you may very well start to develop a fatty hump at the C7-T1 junction as a compensatory mechanism. Sexy!!!!
Don't despair though - you can affect change by:
- Spending less time on your phone
- Position your head and neck BEFORE you start using your phone / tablet
- Spend time strengthening your posterior-chain muscles
- Spend time daily working on your mobility, specifically extension of the upper spine, retraction of the shoulders and postural alignment (watch this space more to follow on these exercises).
- Contact The Movement Practice to discuss a movement screening and postural analysis
Hope this helps :)
- Research by 'RescueTime'.