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Texting Tribulations: What Texting does to your Spine?
Spine problems are widely misunderstood by doctors and patients alike. Doctors often do not agree on the causes of the spine problems, while patients often fail to comprehend the medical complications arising out of spine related disorders. Spinal discs are round in shape and flat on top, firmly attached to the vertebrae above and below them. They are pliant and act as shock absorbers but like other bones in the body, they are often susceptible to problems arising out of bad posturing and degeneration due to aging.
A new study by Kenneth K. Hansraj, chief of spine surgery at New York Spine Surgery and Rehabilitation Medicine, has revealed disturbing results on the effects of using cell phones on spinal bones. According to the research conducted by him, bad posturing while using cell phones especially while texting can put undue pressure on the spine along with the muscles, tendons and ligaments leading to a variety of spine related ailments.
The doctors at the New York hospital created a model of the cervical spine. Then pressure was extracted in newtons and converted into pounds. The results were disturbing.
An average human head weighs around 10 to 12 pounds in the neutral position. But as the head was tilted forward, the pressure progressively raised up to 60 pounds (almost six times the weight of the average human head). What was scarier was the fact that such posturing not only affected the spine, but also the muscles, tendons and ligaments which usually absorbed the pressure experienced by the spine.
Problems related to texting
It is estimated that people spend two to four hours a day with their head tilted over while reading or texting on a smart phone. Cumulatively this leads to around 700 to 1400 hours of excess stress on the spine in a year. Further, students might spend extra 5000 hours in poor posture. Poor posturing can lead to wear, tear, degeneration and even surgeries.
Good posture versus Bad posture
The study, however, suggested a simple solution to the problem. While texting and reading on cell phones are fine, it is important to maintain a proper posture. According to doctors, the most efficient posture is one where ears are in perfect alignment with the shoulder and the shoulder blades are retracted. Further studies have shown that people who posed in such a high power posture, experienced elevations in testosterone; increase in serotonin and decrease in cortisol. Moreover, they showed higher propensity to take risks as compared to those who stopped and drooped their shoulders.
A word of advice
Doctors are well aware of the importance of smart phone and other such devices in contemporary life. As such they advice people to tweak their lifestyle and texting habit a bit to avoid spine issues. People are advised to look at their mobiles with a neutral spine position and reduce the number of hours they spend on their phones each day. Good posture is essential for general health, bone health and a healthy spine.
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