Yazdani: Technology is blighting the spine

“Don’t slouch,” parents may say. “Stand erect,” the wise uncles will urge. “Push your shoulders back,” others will demand. Yet in spite of these warnings, people continue to ruin their backs. They will slouch, they will toddle with their heads down and they will curl over to read their text …

“Don’t slouch,” parents may say. “Stand erect,” the wise uncles will urge. “Push your shoulders back,” others will demand. Yet in spite of these warnings, people continue to ruin their backs. They will slouch, they will toddle with their heads down and they will curl over to read their text messages.

Society’s reliance on tech may be contributing to worsening posture.

Once termed “text-neck,” “tech-neck” occurs when one stares at phones or tablets for long durations. Experts originally attributed the condition solely to phones, but they soon realized computers and other devices can strain the neck as well. 

Prolonged tech-neck can cause neck and back pain, in addition to a whole host of much more dire issues such as spinal arthritis, disc problems and sciatica. The agony from the neck could even reach one’s hands and arms.

In their book, Growing Young, author Leonard Ross and doctor Rene Cailliet outlined the problems with forward head posture. Inclining one’s head can add up to 30 pounds on their spine which could stem lung capacity and lead to heart and blood vascular disease.

Others believe that the angle of the head could increase this weight even more.

In an interview with Aaptiv, Dr. Neel Anand stated that one’s head “placed at a 60-degree angle forces the [neck] to hold the equivalent of 60 pounds.” He adds that in such a scenario, the individual exerts five times more pressure on the neck than it can manage.

This imbalance may ultimately alter the curvature of the spine.  

A report by analytics company comScore found that hours spent on Social Media among Canadians aged 18 to 24 increased 67 percent from 2010 to 2011, spending 10.8 hours monthly on Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr.

The same study reported that Canadians under 35 watched 57 percent of all online videos.

This indicates that youth are more likely to start developing neck and back issues on a higher scale than older generations. Their high consumption of technology points to the growth of poor postural habits.

But damages can be undone or prevented.

Experts generally agree that staring at a screen from eye-level will curb the strain associated with placing one’s head forward. But screens at eye-level will not solely prevent tech-neck, they will instead allow users to maintain their already straightened backs. More importantly, one should take some respite from their technology. This way, they will be able to unwind and re-adjust their postures.

Chiropractor Ciara Cappo offered Healthline some unconventional advice on the issue. She suggested that people perform an “exaggerated nod” where they kneel, pull their shoulders down then back, which would mobilize the neck. The chiropractors also recommends the “chin-tuck,” where one sits on a chair and pulls their head and chin back. From there, the individual elongates their neck and pushes it from the skull for three deep breaths.

At times, tech neck may seem inevitable. Computer or phone use for work, school or play may be unavoidable, but individuals can avoid poor posture. With vigilance and respite from technology, tech neck can become a tidbit of the past.

 


Please consider donating to the Emerald. We are an independent non-profit dedicated to supporting and educating this generation's best journalists. Your donation helps pay equipment costs, travel, payroll, and more! 
Donate