While just a few years ago, the idea of owning a smartphone seemed almost Jetson-like, 44% of Americans now own smartphones. There’s no doubt that they are very useful devices and have taken on at least one—if not many—important roles in our daily lives. They let you stay in touch with your family and connect you to whatever you want, whenever you want, almost instantaneously.
But I’m here to bring the bad news: all that convenience might not be the best for your health. Aside from the social isolation and an inability to pull yourself away from your device, smartphones can also damage your posture and create all kinds of pain.
How Looking at Your Screen Increases Strain
Humans were designed to stand up straight, but now we don’t. Walk down any street or through any shopping mall, and you’ll see countless people with their heads down, looking at the screen of their smartphone. It might not seem like that much of a strain, but for every inch your head moves forward or tilts down, it’s an added 10 pounds of pressure on your neck. So even three inches creates a 30-pound strain and gravitational pull on your neck, shoulders, and upper back. All of this can result in some very uncomfortable pain.
Combine that with the estimate that people with smartphones spend an average two to four hours a day looking down at them, and you can see why this is cause for concern.
What’s Proper Posture?
As far as your posture goes, you want to be able to draw a straight line from the middle of your ear, down through your shoulder, the middle of your hip, and your ankle. If you’re hunched over, you’re not going to see this straight line. Most likely, your head will hang forward, your shoulders may hunch inward, and your upper back will lean in, too.
Straighten Up and Straighten Out
In order to combat poor posture and reverse the effects of too much text messaging, there are a couple of things you can do:
- The first is to put your phone down and give yourself a break.
- You can also try to restrict usage to when you’re sitting, then bring the phone up to your face so you don’t have to pull your head down.
- Getting out for some activity also helps.
- Going for a walk and keeping your body in an upright position can strengthen muscles.
- Moderate exercise is a great way to combat poor posture.
- Lastly, you can slowly roll your neck from shoulder to shoulder, or lay back on an exercise ball to stretch out, decrease tension, and counteract strain.
Smartphones have their many advantages, but being aware of their negative effects and doing what you can to perfect your posture will go a long way in giving your overall health the advantage.
Sources for Today’s Article:
“Smartphones Tied to Posture Problems,” CBS News web site, January 19, 2012; http://www.cbsnews.com/news/smartphones-tied-to-posture-problems/, last accessed November 24, 2014.
CBS News, “OMG, You’re Texting Your Way to Back Pain,” WKRC Cincinnati web site, November 21, 2014; http://www.local12.com/news/features/top-stories/stories/omg-youre-texting-your-way-back-pain-21004.shtml.