As a chiropractor, I look at a fair few x-rays from week to week and a concerning pattern I am seeing is the amount of people, young people, with necks that curve the wrong way. Less mobile, due to mobile use. The cervical curve should somewhat resemble a backward C when viewed from the side, the curve isn’t as much as a C but you get the idea. Many people coming in have a straight or reversed curved yet they don’t have any history of a neck injury.
A big factor that I believe contributes to this, and I am not alone, is the way most of us are using our smartphones and devices. Take a look around the next time you are in public. You will see the majority of people, especially young people, hunch over their phones with no idea of the impact it is having on their bodies.
The normal neck curve is designed to support the weight of the head and protect the spinal cord and nerves. When this curve gets altered it will cause the joints to wear out faster, which can lead to pain and even nerve issues later in life. A few extra kilos of effective weight on the neck is added for every inch forward of the shoulders that the head is.
What can you do about it?
- When you are using your mobile always have the screen at eye level. When your arm tires, then take a break!
- A more sustainable posture is to hold the device at eye level with one hand. Place your other arm across your belly as if you were folding your arms. Then use the back of your hand to support the elbow of the upright arm.
- Be conscious of how you hold your head and neck when working long hours on the laptop. Keep your chin tucked and head and shoulders back.
Hansraj, K, “Assessment of Stresses in the Cervical Spine Caused by Posture and Position of the Head,” Neuro and Spine Surgery, Surgical Technology International XXV
Nejati P, Loftian S, Moezy A and Nejati M (2013), “The relationship of forward head posture and rounded shoulders with neck pain in Iranian office workers,” Medical Journal of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Vol. 28,26. 3 May 2014, http://mjiri.iums.ac.ir
Quek J, Pua Y, Clark R, Bryant A (2012), “Effects of thoracic kyphosis and forward head posture on cervical range of motion in older adults,” Manual Therapy, DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.math.2012.07.005
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