There is a plethora of human behaviors that can cause back pain, from lifting heavy items to sitting in an office chair for 40 hours a week, to slumping on the couch for Netflix marathons, but new research shows that there’s a new culprit for Americans’ back pain problems.
According to CBS News, new research performed by chief of spine surgery at New York Spine Surgery and Rehabilitation Medicine Dr. Kenneth Hansraj, which has been accepted for publication in Surgical Technology International, reveals that texting is probably causing a lot of back pain for people.
According to a survey taken by the National Institute of Health Statistics, back pain is the most reported type of pain at 27%, followed by headache and neck pain. An estimated 26 million Americans between the ages of 20 and 64 suffer from frequent back pain, which might be a direct effect of the number of texts they send and smartphone surfing they do.
This isn’t necessarily new information — CBS News reported back in 2012 that smartphones are tied to poor posture. Dr. Hansraj’s study, however, shows just how bad it is to slouch over a smartphone to compose an email, send a text, or judge whether or not a selfie is worthy of uploading to Instagram.
Essentially, the study explored the damaging effects of bending the neck at a certain angle — something that some Americans do for hours a day. The human head weighs around 10 or 12 pounds, but a bent neck puts many more pounds of pressure on the spine, and the more the neck is bent, the more weight the spine is burdened with.
One of the most startling finding of the study is that bending the neck 60 degrees puts about 60 pounds of pressure on the spine — which is pretty much like having a seven-year-old sitting on it.
“Don’t forget the importance of using your eyes to track and read your smart phones. Rather than bending your neck to be able to see your screen, try using your eyes,” says JayDee Vykoukal, Doctor of Physical Therapy, Sierra Regional Spine Institute. “Other great tricks include propping the your phone at an angle or give those arms an extra workout and bring the phone up to eye level. Its the little tricks and attention to detail will make a world of difference and prevent repetitive stress to the joints.”
Good posture doesn’t just help a person avoid back pain — it also promotes good health and well-being.