KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Most of us have our heads down, looking at our electronic devices way more often than we realize, and the impact on the spine can be scary.
“We’re just not made to be able to hold like this and stay that way,” said Britt Dalton, a physical therapist with University of Tennessee Medical Center’s Hardin Valley satellite office. Experts say the head weights 10-12 pounds, but the more you tilt your head, the more strain you are creating on your body.
Dalton said depending on the angle you may be putting up to 60 pounds of strain on your back. With the average person on their phones, tablets and laptops for 2-4 hours per day, he said the impact on your back can be more harmful than most would think.
“When we change the orientation of the spine, we change how the muscles work. It can lead to faster wear and tear, so to speak, deterioration of the disk, the joints themselves, the tiny little ligaments around it,” said Dalton.
Our phones, tablets and laptops aren’t going anywhere, so Dalton recommends some tips to protect your health:
1. Watch your posture
Doctors say good posture isn’t just about the spine. It affects your overall health and mood.
2. Take a break and exercise
Take breaks throughout the day doing some simple exercises. Do ten to fifteen of the stretches a few times a day to ease the strain on your neck and spine.
3. Don’t use your cell phone or tablet for extended work
Save that for your laptop and make sure it in the proper position. When you use your cell phone, try to raise it, instead of bending your head to look at it.
4. Stretch your shoulders and chest
Put your arms up high on a door frame and slowly lean forward, then take a small step forward and let your shoulders be drawn back, holding your position for several seconds. Keep your head up. You should feel a stretch somewhere along the shoulders or chest.
5. Exercise your neck
Lie on your bed with a small pillow under your head. Without raising your head off the pillow gently tip your chin toward your neck and hold it there for five to 10 seconds.
6. Exercise your shoulders
Keep your arms by your sides while holding a light resistance band, which is available at most sporting goods stores. Hold the band underhanded, then rotate outwards, squeezing the shoulder blades together.