Staring at Your Cell Phone All Day is Causing Back Issues

Michele Warg
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If you are like many modern professionals, you spend upwards of two hours each day staring down at your cell phone. Although the increased connectivity enables better communication, it may also be causing back issues. Without proper posture modification, you may unwittingly be putting yourself at risk for short-term and long-term back pain.

Now that smart phones have been in circulation for multiple years, health care professionals are beginning to see the effects of extended use. Many problems originate from poor posture; in order to see your screen, chances are that you bend your head, hunch your shoulders and keep your arms in one spot. This posture causes your muscles to stretch unnaturally, often over an extended period of time. Eventually, the stretching causes soreness and damage that extends down through your neck and causes back issues.

The farther you tilt your head, the more pronounced your back issues may be. An average adult head weighs approximately 10 pounds. When you angle your head down, the pull of gravity increases the weight on your cervical spine. In a sitting position, it is not uncommon to hold your head at an angle of 60 degrees, increasing the pressure on your spine to 60 pounds. This additional weight stresses your neck and back, leading to pain.

A few minutes of cell phone use is unlikely to cause damage to the muscles and tendons in your neck and back. True back issues arise after hours of texting, emailing or Internet browsing. When you hold your neck in an unnatural position for many hours, you risk strained muscles, herniated discs and pinched nerves. You may also experience more headaches, constipation or even neurological problems. In the long term, the minor back issues can develop into a flattened spinal curve.

Smart phone technology is unlikely to go away, and most modern professionals cannot get away with limiting communication to computers. To minimize the impacts of phone-related posture, health care professionals recommend adopting a neutral spinal position whenever possible. Instead of hunching your shoulders and bending your neck to look at your phone, hold it closer to eye level. If you must use your phone for long periods of time, change positions frequently or pair it with a headset. Move the phone between both hands when you are talking on the phone and avoid holding it exclusively to one ear. Whenever possible, hold your head straight over your holders with your shoulders rolled back.

While it is impossible for most people to avoid mobile phones completely, it is crucial to be aware of the potential health concerns. By staying aware of your posture and making adjustments as needed, you can avoid debilitating back issues down the road.


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