Monday, June 29, 2015

Texting is Dangerous Even When You're Not Driving

Everyone knows how dangerous it can be to use your smart phone for text messaging while driving.  Even a momentary distraction that takes your eyes off the road can have disastrous effects.  But it seems that not everyone knows how dangerous texting can be even when you're not driving.n Aside from the obvious dangers of being distracted while crossing a street or parking lot or going up or down stairs, the posture that people typical use for texting stresses the body in many ways, which if done frequently enough, over a long enough period of time can lead to permanent problems.

The picture above exaggerates, of course where the person's head falls off, but the other figures are accurate.  An adult human head weighs about 10 pounds, which when balanced properly in a good postural position (the ear should be directly above the tip of the shoulder) feels weightless.  As the head leans forward, as it does when focusing on a phone screen the pressure on the neck increases dramatically.  The graphic shows it in degrees.  Another way of expressing it is that for every inch the ear is ahead of the tip of the shoulder, add ten pounds. All of this additional stress strains the muscles, vertebrae and discs of the neck, causing pain, stiffness, and ultimately, permanent structural changes that can be quite serious.

A typical 18-24 year old sends or receives roughly 50 texts a day.  That's a lot of time spent looking down.  This is the first generation that has had such widespread use of a device which keeps them sedentary and focused on something that promotes an unhealthy posture.  If you must use your smartphone frequently, make an effort to hold the phone higher, so you won't have to bend your head as far forward to use it.  This simple strategy will help you to reduce the amount of stress on your neck.

Unfortunately, the potential risks of frequent cell phone use for texting and browsing don't end there.  Typically, while focusing on a phone or other hand-held device, the shoulders are slumped and the back is rounded - a posture which crowds the lungs.  Lungs may be further compromised by the quick shallow breaths we tend to take when we're concentrating on something.  Take the time to straighten your spine, roll your shoulders back and take deep breaths to help minimize the impact of the texting posture on your lungs.

Think about what texting can do to your hands.  Many people spend a large part of their day clutching their smartphone in their hands, which can lead to stiffness and even speed the development of arthritis.  Put the phone down when not in use, and take time to stretch your hands and fingers wide open periodically throughout the day to give them a break.

Parents - teach your teens and young adults how to take care of their bodies while they are still young and healthy.  And set a good example with your own texting habits.

Get some exercise on  a regular basis, even if you don't have much time, to counterbalance the time you spend texting, watching videos and surfing the web.  Stretch, jump, walk, run or do yoga.  It will help you to stay limber.  Regular chiropractic adjustments can also prevent the stresses of texting from becoming permanent structural problems.  At Wantagh Woods Chiropractic and Wellness, we treat the entire person in order to promote good health.  Contact us to make an appointment for a free consultation.

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