Dr. Bell's Blog

The Smart Phone Slump

The effects of poor posture on health are becoming more and more evident.  Yes, poor posture can make you sore and uncomfortable, but the effects of it can be even more far reaching than that. With the ever increasing use of phones for countless hours every day, along with more people having sedentary jobs, the problems from poor posture are becoming more rampant.  

The biggest culprit of poor posture today lies with the frequent use of phones in our every day lives.  The average American today spends 4.7 hours per day on their phone, mostly checking social media sites.  The highest usage is those between the ages of 25 and 54....so it's not just kids.  What does this mean?  The vast majority of people have their head in a downward position for a minimum of 4.7 hours per day, not taking into account what they do for a living. This forward head posture causes an enormous amount of stress on your neck and upper back.  Rene Cailliet, M.D. from the department of physical medicine at the University of California had the following to say about this. "Head in forward posture can add up to thirty pounds of abnormal leverage on the cervical spine.  This can pull the entire spine out of alignment.  Forward head posture (FHP) may result in a 30% loss of vital lung capacity."

Ways to avoid the "smart phone slump"

The obvious is to limit your time on the phone, however I realize this may not be realistic.  Our time spent on the phone continues to increase every year, not decrease.  So if we are going to be spending a lot of time on the phone, it is crucial to do it with the best possible posture.  The best technique for using your phone is simply to hold it at eye level. This will accomplish two things.  One, it will take a lot of stress of your neck.  Two, it will limit the time you spend on it.  Holding your phone straight ahead is tiring for your shoulders (try it, you will see).  This will cause you to use your phone for shorter spurts of time. Try also to remove as many unnecessary distractions as possible off your phone to limit temptations.  This is a more drastic measure for sure, but every little bit can help.

Finally, poor posture while on phones is starting at a VERY young age.  I routinely see kids as young as 2 years old glued to their parents phone.  Do your best to limit this when possible. We know the serious effects this has had on adults in just a short number of years we have been using smart phones, but have no idea what kind of effect this can have in the future on a young spine.  

Be smart and take a proactive approach now, so you don't regret it later.

LIVE well. BE well.