The generation that grew up on handheld devices such as cellphones, tablets, iPods and game consoles may face early spinal cord problems, according to a recent study published in Surgical Technological International.
Though it seems that texting only requires muscles from your hands, you’re actually also exerting pressure on your cervical spine, depending on how you position yourself.
When you bend your head 60 degrees to look down at your phone to send and receive texts, you are putting 60 pounds of pressure on your cervical spine.
The longer you text in a downward bent position, the more of negative impact it will have on your body, according to the author of the study, Dr. Kenneth K. Hansraj.
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Hansraj, Chief of Spine Surgery at New York Spine Surgery & Rehabilitation, explained the toll your body takes from texting, saying, "Loss of the natural curve of the cervical spine … may lead to early wear, tear, degeneration and possible surgeries.”
The pressure varies from the degree your neck is bent at. At 0 degrees, your body’s resting pressure is just the weight of your head, approximately 10-12 pounds. However, as the degrees increase, so does your resting pressure. At 15 degrees, it’s about 26 pounds of pressure; at 30 degrees, it’s at 40 pounds; at 40 degrees, it’s up to 49 pounds, and then at 60 degrees, your body’s spinal cord is taking in roughly 60 pounds of pressure.
Many millennials have been raised on these handheld products that compromise the position of their spinal cord when in use. Hansraj suggests that high school students will have spent 5,000 hours by the time they reach high school exerting this detrimental pressure on their spine while texting.
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A surefire solution to the problem would be to abolish the handheld technologies all together, but they have become an integral part of out society now.
Instead, Hansraj suggests we just be more mindful of our posture when using these devices, saying, “While it is nearly impossible to avoid the technologies that cause these issues, individuals should make an effort to look at their phones with a neutral spine and to avoid spending hours each day hunched over.”