The average human head weighs 10-12 pounds when it’s in the neutral position, which occurs when your ears are in line with your shoulder in the sagittal (side) view of your spine. Unfortunately, the excessive use of smartphones (averaging 2-4 hours/day) has caused many to develop what is known as “anterior head carriage” or “forward head posture”. For every inch that your head is going forward from the neutral position, you are adding 10 pounds of pressure to your neck. Dr. Kenneth Hansraj, chief of spine surgery at New York Spine Surgery and Rehabilitation Medicine states that “The weight seen by the spine dramatically increases when flexing the head forward at varying degrees. Loss of the natural curve of the cervical spine leads to incrementally increased stresses about the cervical spine. These stresses may lead to early wear, tear, degeneration and possibly surgeries.” Forward head posture compresses the facet joints and adds excess stress to the neck muscles, ligaments and tendons.
At a 30 degree forward head tilt from neutral, you are adding 40 pounds of pressure to your neck, at 60 degrees you are adding 60 pounds at 90 degrees the amount of pressure you are adding to your neck is not measurable. Bad posture has been linked to a host of medical problems, including headaches and other neurological problems, depression, constipation, and heart disease. At a minimum, constant slouching is likely to cause a lot of chronic pain. Engaging in proper form while texting is important for everyone, but it is especially important for scoliosis patients. In order to restore the thoracic and lumbar curves, the cervical lordosis must first be addressed.
Here are some tips to combat giving in to your body’s natural affinity to slouch as well as the proper posture to text:
- Head in neutral
- Phone at eye level or abobe
- Engaging your abdominal muscles at 20%
- Flip shoulders out (make your arms look like they are carrying a pizza, also known as external rotation) from here you can bend your elbows to hold your phone at eye level
This position creates mechanically stable shoulders, unloads the cervical spine and engages your pectoralis muscles. While it may appear odd or unusual to be holding your phone in this fashion, the benefits of healthy posture far outweigh the stares you may receive.