Technology devices such as our cell phones and iPads have drastically changed the way we do life. When you walk around a public place you see the majority of people with their devices out, looking down, occasionally looking up to make sure they won’t run into anything. It’s gotten so bad now that what we used to call “nursing home posture” - shoulders rolled forward, chin out, slouching - we now call “junior high posture”. Combine the in-hand devices with the heavy backpacks children wear today and this has a dramatic effect on their posture, which can have a huge impact on their overall, long-term health.
Researchers have studied how this abnormal posture affects overall health and the findings are remarkable. One such study, done in 2014 by the Chief of Spine Surgery at New York Spine Surgery and Rehabilitative Medicine showed that repetitive poor posture, particularly of the head and neck caused severe damage to the structures of the neck - vertebrae, discs, ligaments, and tendons leading to spine surgeries, but also was associated with Low T (testosterone), reduced serotonin (think: depression), and increased cortisol (your body’s main stress hormone). The study was specifically done to provide more information to surgeons who have to surgically reconstruct damaged and degenerated spines, which can be prevented. Some of the highlights of the study were:
The study evaluated the stress using an average head weight of 13.2 lbs. The weight added to the spine dramatically increased when flexing the neck forward to varying degrees.
0° increased weight on the neck by 10 to 12 lbs.
15° increased weight on the neck by 27 lbs.
30° increased weight on the neck by 40 lbs.
45° increased weight on the neck by 49 lbs.
60° increased weight on the neck by 60 lbs.
Loss of the natural curve of the cervical spine leads to incrementally increased stresses on the cervical spine which may lead to early wear, tear, degeneration, and could lead to early surgeries.
Good posture was associated with much more than bad backs or necks. Good posture was linked to higher testosterone, increases in serotonin, decreases in cortisol, and increased feelings of power. Poor posture was associated with the opposite findings.
An average person spends 2-4 hours per day with their head tilted forward for reading and texting on their devices, amassing 700 to 1400 hours of excess, abnormal cervical spine stress per year. It was also noted that a high school student may even spend an extra 5000 hours in poor posture!
The next time you look at a junior high or high-school aged kid, possibly your own, look at the angle of their head looking down and picture 49 lbs of added pressure to their spine and think about them holding that pressure there for 5000 hours (or 208 straight days) - you can imagine how that would have an effect on more than just neck pain!
This is why it’s so important that you get your kids into a chiropractor’s office to be checked and adjusted from birth, regardless of symptoms. Chiropractic care has been proven to be a more effective alternative to medical treatment for symptoms like ear infections, bed-wetting, colic, reflux, digestive issues, but the kids who need it the most are the kids who don’t have any symptoms yet and come and get adjusted regularly for prevention. Hormone issues cause serious life altering disease processes. Low testosterone is epidemic in our men today. Low serotonin leads to depression. Chronically elevated cortisol is linked to almost every chronic disease of aging today. Chiropractic care can help minimize the damage being done to your child’s spine every single day and can help prevent much more serious problems down the road. Get your kids adjusted!
- Hansraj, KK. Surgical Technology International Journal 2014 Nov; 25: 277-9 Assessment of Stresses in the Cervical Spine Caused By Posture and the Position of the Head