Read any good books lately? Of course, these days many bibliophiles choose to do their reading on a smartphone, tablet, or other device rather than perusing old-fashioned ink on paper.
Whether you prefer to read electronically or turn pages in a book, the important thing is that you work out your mind by reading. While reading is indeed fundamental, prolific readers have reported some negative effects on their posture, especially when they read on a smartphone. Some doctors are calling it the "Smart Phone Slump," and at Resurgens Spine Center, we'd like to help you avoid it without putting a damper on your love for the written word. Here's some info about posture and smart phone use that may help you avoid falling into a slump.
Smart Phones and Posture
No matter how hard you try to avoid it, staring at your smart phone screen naturally causes your head to slump forward by as much as 60 degrees. This puts a tremendous amount of pressure on the vertebra and discs in your neck. In fact, one researcher used advanced computer modeling to determine that your smart phone obsession can put up to 60 pounds of pressure on your neck; that's quite a workout! The more time you spend staring at screens, the more wear and tear your neck will experience. Over time, bad posture during your smart phone use can cause a number of problems in the short term, from neck pain to headaches, and in the long term, some doctors believe it could even lead to herniated discs and pinched nerves.
Avoiding the Smart Phone Slump
One in every five people on earth owns a smart phone and many of us use them for work, socializing, and entertainment. While cutting down on your screen time can absolutely make a big impact on your risk of developing smart phone slump, we're not asking you to throw out your devices. We're merely suggesting that you be more aware of your posture while using devices like smart phones, tablets, laptops, and mobile gaming systems. These days, people are using their devices more and more (in some cases, up to 7.5 hours or more per day) so, it's especially important to think about your posture during extended periods of screen time, like when you're reading an e-book.
When sitting, try keeping your feet flat on the floor and remember to keep your ears directly above your shoulders. If you have trouble reading the words on the screen, you can try increasing the font size or just bring the device closer to your face, rather than leaning forward to see it better. Most importantly, be sure to break up your marathon smart phone sessions. Every 20 minutes or so, try putting your device down, stretching your neck and shoulders, and taking a short walk to get your blood flowing before you get back to it. From all of us at the Resurgens Spine Center, keep reading, and don't forget to think about your posture when you do!