The Great Phone Epidemic – Is your iSlouch destroying your Spine? (Part 2)
Claire - April 7, 2014
If “Sitting, to your spine is like a sugar, to your teeth” then spending hours on your phone does to your spine what becoming a meth addict does to your dentition.
You may have heard about the impact that sitting has on our spines. There are a number of studies coming out at the moment comparing the health impacts of sitting to those of smoking cigarettes and the conclusion is not great: Sitting is the new smoking. It compresses and dehydrates the discs and promotes an unhealthy environment that can lead to serious decay of the spinal bones. It puts pressure on the nerves exiting the spine and reduces the flow of life-giving cerebrospinal fluid to the brain, essentially starving it. But sitting is nothing compared to how the posture we assume when we are looking at our mobile phone and the severe consequences this has on your spine.
It is near on impossible to spend any time on your phone without dropping your head forward and down to look at the screen. This is within the normal healthy range of motion for your neck, but holding that position frequently or for extended periods of time it can put your entire alignment out and put excessive tension on the central nervous system. As your head drops forward, it’s relative weight increases, which means the muscles require much more energy to hold it in that position. As the muscle fatigue, your shoulders begin to round forwards also and the curve of your middle back begins to increase. Next, your core muscles begin to fatigue and you spine starts to make a C-shape. Or if you are standing, you throw your pelvis forward to stop yourself from falling on your face. With habit, the muscles and ligaments either stretch or shorten permanently and some atrophy while others work so hard that scar tissue is laid down. Then we begin to assume this posture all the time. This decreases your ability to get the full range of motion in your neck which eventually leads to spinal decay and spurs growing on the bones.
As we look down and forwards the spinal cord is stretched and compressed as it travels down the spinal column. This stretch can be so great that sometimes the brain stem is herniated down into the top vertebrae. This is the part of the brain that controls the most important function in the brain, such heart rate and breathing. Having that sort of pressure all the time can have untold effects on your future health.
At the other end, as the pelvis is forced forwards the pressure is greatly increased in the discs of the lumbar spine, squeezing the fluid out of them and robbing them of the nutrients they require to stay healthy. This also leads to bone spurs, “slipped discs” and lower back pain.
Each year we are seeing younger and younger people come into see our Chiropractic Doctors with some level of degeneration in the spine and/or serious symptoms like migraines, neck pain, low back pain as well as breathing problems and even high blood pressure. This iSlouch posture is an epidemic with a dramatic impact on the health of our society.