In the age of information technology, the smartphone has slowly crept into our lives and we cannot imagine a day without it. It is not uncommon to find one bending his head looking at his smartphone engrossed in Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Whatsapp.
Recent research by Dr. Kenneth Hansraj, Chief of Spine Surgery at the New York Spine Surgery and Rehabilitation Medicine found that bending your head at a 60 degree angle puts a hefty 27kg (60lbs) of pressure on your cervical spine. That is more than the weight of an average 7 year old!
The study published in the 25th edition of the Surgical Technology International found that the weight on the spine increases when the head is flexed forward.
Tilting the head forward at 45 degrees puts a pressure of 22kg (49lbs) to the neck.
A 30 degree neck tilt puts a pressure of 18 kg while a 15 degree neck tilt puts 12kg of extra weight on the spine!
The average adult head weighs about 4.5kg to 5.4kg when it is in neutral spine position. As the head bends forward, the force of gravity pulls on the head and loads additional weight onto the spine. The loss of the natural curve of the spine leads to increased stress on the neck. These stresses on the neck may lead to early wear and tear, degeneration and possible surgery.
It is, therefore, essential to maintain proper posture. The study defines proper posture as when ears are aligned with the shoulders and shoulder blades are retracted. In this position, spinal stress is diminished and it is the most efficient position on the spine.
The results of this study, in my opinion, provides a scientific basis on what we Pilates teachers have been teaching. Bad posture can lead to a host of problems like back pain. Pilates works to correct this bad posture and bring the spine back to alignment.
For clients who are new to our studio, we always start off with a postural assessment and point out the areas that are out of alignment. This can be the head tilted unnaturally forward or one side of the shoulders higher than the other. Based on this assessment, we develop a series of exercises to bring the body back into alignment. At the end of the first lesson, it is not uncommon for clients to find that they are standing taller and are in better alignment.
While we cannot avoid the onslaught of smartphones, we can take steps to change our posture and enhance our lives.
Another great reason to start your Pilates journey! Contact us now!