For all the reasons you could have back pain – your smartphone being the source is probably way down the list. But think about it for a moment. We spend our lives hunched over our mobile phones using them while walking or sitting down, and all this use has had a dramatic effect on our postures – and a poor posture leads to stress on your neck, shoulders, and your upper and lower back. This stress can cause injury or make existing injuries, especially to the lower right and lower left back, particularly sore. There is even a new type of repetitive strain injury coined “text neck” for its link to smartphone use.
Exploring all the ways that your smartphone can cause back pain can go a long way to combating the problem.
How Do Smartphones Cause Back Pain?
The human head is heavy; it weighs between 12 and 14 pounds. In fact, the load on your spine can equal as much as 60 pounds when your head is titled!
This weight is felt on the cervical spine and the neck muscles, tendons, and ligaments that support it. The average person uses their smartphone for 2-4 hours a day, with teenagers reportedly using it for 4-6! All this smartphone use means a lot of head tilting, and the weight and continual strain on the spine are immense.
Add to this when you tilt your head forward your shoulders move to a rounded position, which is another cause of poor posture. This poor posture can cause health problems for your neck, shoulders, and lower back and in severe cases spinal degeneration that could require surgery.
What Can You Do to Help?
Knowing all this is great, but what can you actually do to remove the strain off your spine? Here are some best practices when using your smartphone and tips to help improve your posture.
When using your smartphone or tablet bring it eye level, this will minimize the time your head is tilted and help take the pressure off your spine.
When using your smartphone for a call use earbud with a built-in microphone. This frees up your hands and allows you to keep your head upright.
Smartphones AI assistants, like Google or Amazon’s Alexa, are incredibly easy to use with the ability to voice activate all the functions of your phone. So instead of looking down to compose a text or add an appointment to your calendar, you can say for example “Google add dentist appointment to next Tuesday at 3.30pm.” And it’ll be in your schedule.
Take breaks from phone use. Consistent hunching over is bad for your posture so limit sessions to 20 minutes and if you are having a long text conversation maybe wait until you can do it from a computer when you are seated in an ergonomic chair.
What Can You Do When You Feel the Strain?
When your neck is feeling stiff, for whatever reason, stop what you are doing so not cause any further injury. To help reduce the discomfort and bring back mobility to the affected area, there are several stretches you can do, such as:
Seat Neck Release – this gentle stretch targets the sides of your neck and can be completed while seated.
Place your left hand on your left knee. Place your right hand on your head and slowly tilt your head to the right. Switch your arms around and apply pressure on the other side. You can add pressure to the stretch if it feels of benefit.
There are many more stretches you can do to ease the strain on your neck, try a few, and see what works best for you. And remember, if you start to feel even more pain, stop what you are doing immediately and contact your chiropractor if the problem persists.