Technology has made huge advancements, especially in the last few years, but what has it done for our postural support?
Posture in it’s literally sense means ‘a particular position of the body’ but to restrict this to its literal denotation almost gives the term an injustice. Posture can be responsible for a lot more than the way we sit or the way we look; it has a huge impact on our mental and physical health. In fact, Dr. James Levine, director of the Mayo Clinic-Arizona State University Solutions has stated that the way we sit can now be more dangerous for us than smoking.
There is not one single factor that is causing many of us to sport poor postural positions. Having said this, working long hours whilst sitting in the same position, sleeping in poor positions such as on your front and not getting enough movement are all thought to be contributing factors to why many of us have poor posture. However, something perhaps far less reported on is the affect that our smartphones and tablets can have on our posture.
In recent years the growth of smartphones and tablets has been unprecedented. Most people nowadays, regardless of age, have some form of handheld device which in the most part is extremely useful. It enables us to keep connected with family and friends and contains useful features or applications which can make our everyday lives easier. But what exactly are the potential damages to our core position that come with having a smartphone?
Quite simply, smartphones are becoming a pain in the neck. According to research from a group of leading doctors, what is termed ‘tech neck’ is becoming an epidemic that could lead to permanent damage if we are not careful. The postural position adopted when gazing at our smartphones actually increases pressure on our neck, which in turn can cause wear and tear on the neck leading to medication or even an operation.
It is thought that the average head weighs between 10Ib and 12Ib. Despite this, when we anchor our heads forward to look at our smartphones or tablets, the effective weight of our head increases. In fact, angling our heads as little as 15 degrees can increase our head weight by as much as 27Ib rising to an enormous 60Ib at 60 degrees. To put this into context, angling our head at 60 degrees is the equivalent of holding five gallons of paint on your head.
In addition, as well as the added pressure on your neck and spine, slouching whilst looking at your mobile can affect your health and wellbeing more generally. For example, your spine essentially acts as a protector for your nervous system. Which literally controls and coordinates all the different functions of your body. This is why any disruption from the nerve communication to your organs may result in irregular function. Simply by keeping good posture and improving the alignment of the spine, there are a whole host of benefits available.
Other than the obvious physical harm that handheld devices are doing to our posture, there is also evidence to suggest that it is also responsible for affecting our self-image and happiness. It’s unsurprising that those who slouch, have their shoulders forward and head low down are more likely to be depressed. Well studies have now shown that your posture can dictate the way we think about ourselves. Therefore, your smartphone or tablet could literally be shaping who you are as a person.
Find out exactly how your posture shapes who you are in this video from Amy Cuddy
Smartphones are very much a part of everyday life so you may think that this is a situation that will just keep reoccurring. However, there are things that you can do to try and stop the excessive stress that is being placed on your neck and spine. With the average smartphone user spending a huge 2 – 4 hours every day with their head dropped down, what are these solutions?How can you avoid this poor posture?
Take a Break:
If you have noticed that you’ve been on your phone for a prolonged period of time then take a little bit of time away from the screen. Just getting up and walking around, doing some household chores or engaging in light exercise is the perfect solution to an hour or two away from your phone. Not only will this help with your posture but it will also reduce the chances of developing ailments such as repetitive strain injury.
Use the technology:
Those who simply have to be on their tablet or phone should use the technology that they have at their disposal. For example altering our postural position when using these devices will go a long way in reducing the effects of poor posture. This may involve either lying down with a straight back or holding the phone in front of your face but you will start to feel better for it. Alternatively, using voice recognition or simply calling people will reduce the need to slouching when searching the internet or communicating.
Unfortunately, poor posture that happens as a result of technology is more than just a hunch and it is literally changing the way we live our lives. Despite this, we are ever dependent on our handheld devices and therefore the best thing that many of us can do is to try and limit the damage to our spines and neck where possible. Taking steps such as changing the way we hold our phones or using voice recognition will work towards aligning our spine in its natural form.