In little more than a decade, we have become high-tech beings, but evolution doesn’t happen that fast. Therefore, most of us get thrown off balance, physiologically compromised by a virtual lifestyle that leaves the body behind. The more cell phones, electronic tablets, virtual games and computers that we use, the more we build stress in our bodies. We move less and stare at screens more. And our posture suffers.
Poor posture contributes to stress, and stress contributes to poor posture
A human’s head weighs approximately twelve pounds when balanced above the spine. As the neck bends forward and down, the weight increases, placing a greater demand on your cervical spine. At a fifteen-degree angle, your cervical spine must support approximately twenty-seven pounds. At thirty degrees, forty pounds and so on. Our trapezius muscles kick in to compensate, which affects the back muscles. Overworked back muscles weaken the stomach muscles, which truncates the breath. Experts say it can reduce lung capacity by as much as thirty percent. This domino effect spreads through every part of the body.
“That’s the burden that comes with staring at a smartphone the way millions do for hours every day,” says Dr. Kenneth K. Hansraj, Chief of Spine Surgery at the New York Spine Surgery and Rehabilitation Clinic. Over time, experts say, this type of poor posture, sometimes called “text neck,” can lead to early wear-and-tear on the spine, degeneration, and even surgery, all leading to more stress on the body/mind. “It is an epidemic or, at least, it’s very common,” Hansraj told the Washington Post in their Nov. 20, 2014 issue. “Just look around you, everyone has their heads down.”
Tom DiAngelis, president of the American Physical Therapy Association‘s Private Practice Section, told CNN last year the effect is similar to bending a finger all the way back and holding it there for about an hour. “As you stretch the tissue for a long period of time, it gets sore, it gets inflamed,” he said. It can also cause muscle strain, pinched nerves, or herniated disks. This unnatural compression degrades the neck’s natural curve.
Poor posture can cause other problems as well. The human body is designed to stand strong and erect, effortlessly. Poor posture leads to back pain and digestive problems. Our hips and knees don’t get the interplay with gravity needed to make enough synovial fluid to keep our joints lubricated. Lymph flow is slowed. Oxygen-poor blood doesn’t get pumped back to the lungs with efficiency. Sleep suffers, memory has more lapses, and our vital energy gets depleted. Poor posture has been linked to headaches, neurological problems, depression, and heart disease.
- Be aware of your body when you are talking on the phone or on your computer.
- Keep your head up and don’t lean in to your devices. Have them adjust to you instead of you adjusting to them.
- Take stretch breaks and especially stretch your neck back and around.
- Every 15-30 minutes take a spot check and notice if you are straining your neck or eyes? Get up and walk, and reboot and come back.
- To take a body awareness test go to http://wholebodyintelligence.com/bq_assessment