Technology can be a pain in the neck

Every day we go about our lives seamlessly incorporating more and more technology. Desktop computer sales are down and cellular phones and tablet devices are dominating. Very few of us can go a few hours without checking our phones and we continually rely on our mobile devices for communication, information and entertainment. Research suggests that people spend as much as five hours a day on their smartphone, computer or tablet.

When in public places, it’s hard not to notice how many people have their heads leaning forward, with their shoulders and back hunched over, while using their smartphones or mobile devices.  Even at home, my kids always seem to assume this same position when using their mobile devices and I’m sure I am no different. Is this new technology driven posture becoming a pain in the neck?

You probably remember your teacher or mother telling you to sit up straight, and for a good reason. Over the past twenty years, ergonomics has been stressed in the workplace and it has become common knowledge that good posture helps prevent excessive force on our joints, ligaments and muscles. Good posture has many positive effects on us such as the ability to breathe easier and deeper, it improves circulation and digestion, helps keep your muscles and joints in alignment, projects self-confidence, and can even make you look slimmer and younger.

Recent research from Dr. Kenneth Hansraj, chief of spine surgery at New York Spine Surgery and Rehabilitation Medicine, found that staring down at your phone can put incredible pressure on your neck and spine. Tilting your head forward 15 degrees places 27 pounds of stress on the cervical spine. A 60-degree angle, the angle at which most of us view our phones, increases that stress to 60 pounds. Believe it or not, Text Neck is becoming a real issue. If you take a moment to examine someone’s posture while using their phone, and consider the amount of time that we now spend on our devices, it is easy to understand how this might become a real problem. Let’s look at a few ways to maintain good posture and help alleviate the stresses imposed on your neck.

Get that phone up. By simply raising your phone up to the point where you are looking straight on, you can dramatically improve your posture. Another option might be to lay down on your back, especially if you are lounging around the house. By lying on your back, you are also relieving the pressure on your neck from looking downward.

Take a break every now and then. It’s ok to disconnect! This is a concept that I try to convey to my children. I remind them there are plenty of other activities they can and should be doing, most of which involve getting outside and getting some exercise. You may find it beneficial to set time limits for yourself or your children when using digital devices.

Make sure you have good posture when not using your mobile device. Not only is it important to avoid bad posture when using digital devices, it is just as important to practice good posture when not using them. Good posture helps keep your bones and joints in correct alignment so that your muscles are used correctly. Make sure you bear your weight primarily on the balls of your feet, keeping your knees slightly bent. Your arms should hang naturally down the sides of your body. Stand straight and tall with your shoulders pulled backward and do not push your head forward, backward or to the side. These are just a few things you can do to help maintain a healthy posture while standing.

Exercise and stay in shape. Probably one of the most important things you can do to help maintain good posture, and avoid the effects from the occasional Facebook marathon on your phone, is to maintain a healthy lifestyle by getting plenty of exercise and keeping your muscles in shape.

There is no arguing that mobile devices have found a permanent place in our lives. We do, however, need to adjust how we use them so they don’t become a pain in the neck – literally.