The use of digital devices has had a major impact on people worldwide, but there is a very real physical consequence that you need to be aware of.
In the past few years there has been a progressive increase in the number of smartphone users worldwide (Kim, 2015). Smartphones have created convenience, usefulness and accessibility to its users therefore, encouraging a dramatic dependence on it (Punmiya and Oberoi, 2018). Using smartphones usually requires users to look sharply downward at the device, with the users arms out in front of them for extended periods of time (Abdelhamed, 2014). This maintained head position forces users to adopt incorrect neck postures, which require an increase in the amount of support needed by the cervical spine (Gustafsson et al., 2016).
According to Punmiya and Oberoi (2018) research shows that the weight supported by the cervical spine increases when the head is bent at different angles. Park et al. (2015) explains that the average weight of an adult head is between 4.5kgs to 6kgs in a neutral position. Therefore, as the head begins to bend forward the weight of the head begins to increase to 12kgs at 15 degrees, 18kgs at 30 degrees, 22kgs at 45 degrees and 27kgs at 60 degrees. Thus, the more we increase the forward bend in our neck the greater the weight of the head for the cervical spine to support.
As a result, prolonged use of smart phones can lead to poor neck posture and a loss in the natural curve of the cervical spine. This repetitive nature places a considerable amount of stress on the necks joints and muscles, giving rise to the common neck pain and musculoskeletal disorders experienced by excessive smartphone users (kim, 2015). Jung et al. (2016) suggests that it is of great health importance to start paying more attention to the duration of smart phone use as well as the neck posture developed when using smartphones. Evidence has proven that regular neck exercises, postural awareness and ergonomic guidelines will reduce the risk of developing neck pain and musculoskeletal disorders associated with smartphone use (Abdelhameed and Abdel-aziem, 2016).
The following are a few basic tips that smartphone users could benefit from:
1. Be more aware of good posture when using a smartphone.
2. Exercises and stretching should be done regularly especially for excessive smart phone users. Each exercise should consist of 10 Repetitions, 3 times daily and each stretch should be held for 3x30 seconds, 3 times daily.
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