Do you spend hours hunched over your phone, checking texts, tweets and emails?
- Slumping to look at a phone puts extra pressure on the cervical spine
- Cervical spine is the part of the spine above the shoulders in the neck
- Bending the head at a 60 degree angle puts adds 60lbs worth of pressure
- At more than four stone, that is heavier than the average seven year old
- Extra weight leads to wear and tear, back pain and could require surgery
- Previous studies have warned bad posture leads to health problems
Do you also suffer from neck and back pain?
If so, the two may well be related. New research has found that slumping to read a text or study a selfie can put undue pressure on the neck, leading to a sore back.This is because bending the neck increases the pressure put on the spine. Bending the head at a 60 degree angle to look at a phone screen puts 60 lbs – or 27kg – worth of pressure on the cervical spine, the part of the spine above the shoulders, the study found. At more than four stone in weight, that is heavier than the average seven year old.
The extra pressure put on the neck leads to early wear and tear and the person may eventually need surgery, experts said. Led by Dr Kenneth Hansraj, chief of spine surgery at New York Spine Surgery and Rehabilitation Medicine, researchers found the amount of force on the neck increases with the degree it is bent. Tilting the head by 45 degree adds the force of 49lbs – or 22kg – to the neck. A 30 degree neck tilt equals 40lbs – or 18kg – , while a mere 15 degrees puts an extra 27lbs – 12kg – on the spine. Writing in the study, the researchers said: ‘The weight seen by the spine dramatically increases when flexing the head forward at varying degrees.’
How to promote good posture…
- Put a sign at eye level in front of your desk reminding yourself to gently squeeze your shoulders together and not to slump when you are sitting.
- Smile. Positive ‘facial posture’ plays an essential part in signaling an upward lift in our mood.
- Eating 200mg of oily fish twice a week will help to reduce inflammation and pain.
- Stretch every so often at your desk. Place your hands behind your head, squeeze your elbows together and gently movebackwards until you feel a stretch in the tight area of your upper back.
- Persist. Retraining your muscles to keep you in an upright position can seem like hard work at first, but the more you practise, the more natural it becomes.
According to the researchers, bad posture is when the head is tilted forward and the shoulders drop forward in a rounded position. Good posture was defined as having ears aligned with the shoulders and the shoulder blades retracted. Previous studies have linked bad posture to a number of health problems, including back pain, weight gain, constipation, heartburn, migraines, and respiratory conditions.
In September, researchers from New Zealand found slouching also has an effect on mental health, making a person depressed, angry, even killing their libido. Good posture, on the other hand, has been shown to optimise physical and mental health. Experts advise that sitting up straight allows blood and oxygen to flow freely around the body, and leads to good digestion. It can also trigger the brain to send out more happiness molecules known as endorphins into the blood, while also reducing the stress hormone cortisol.