Smartphone posture: how to avoid neck and back problems

The problems of posture due to the use of technological devices such as smartphones  are a real scourge of modern times, because we spend most of the day looking at a display on a mobile phone, tablet, computer or other electronic gadgets. As a result, we tend to take very dangerous positions for the balance of the joints and the musculoskeletal system as the weights of the human body are distributed in a totally incorrect way.

There are also those who have invented a term for this increasingly common pathology: " Tech neck " where neck means neck in English. But more in the long term, even shoulders, back and even the pelvis can be affected by bad and harmful postures. We try to understand what are the most common mistakes that develop and how we must work in advance to protect our integrity.

Because smartphones are harmful to your posture

The assumption is soon said: above all because of the spasmodic use of the smartphone our posture will be unnatural and without balance. In fact, almost all people tend to bring their eyes closer to the screen, but with the head forward, urging the neck muscles five times as much as necessary, the shoulders are curved forward closing the chest muscles with a considerable tension that generates, in the long run, persistent pain and discomfort. The neck curves 45 degrees giving a pressure of over 23 kg triggering a compensation reaction that advances the pelvis and flattens the cervical and lumbar curves accentuating the dorsal one. A full-blown twist.

More: you get so used to these positions that the body forgets the right posture by acquiring the wrong one even when we are not handling on a cell phone. There are also those who have called this phenomenon "Text Neck" precisely because you often type on your smartphone and send your posture completely down the drain. The results can be very serious, as reported recently by Todd Lanman, spinal neurosurgeon at Cedars-Sinai Medial Center in Los Angeles, California (USA). In milder cases , numb neck and back pains are experienced , in those more severe herniated discs up to the inversion of the curves of the spine.

The zombie walk

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Similar discourse when you find yourself walking and using your smartphone as the so-called " zombie walk " emerges (as named for example by a recent research by the British University Anglia Ruskin that is a very slow, uncertain and lopsided gait, with short steps, frequent tripping and the real danger of falling or bumping into objects. Here the cure is quickly told: do not chat or watch videos while walking, unless it is strictly necessary.

Some cities fight smartphone zombies such as in Hawaii (in the city of Honolulu) where you risk a fine if you cross the street with your smartphone in use. Or provoke as the preferential lanes for those who walk with their mobile phones as in Antwerp in Belgium. Looking closer to Bolzano we are trying to raise awareness among the population with practical paratesta attached to light poles.

The danger of postural modification in adolescents

In this increasingly pervasive mal-habit, those at risk are children and adolescents , where the use of gadgets is twice that of adults. This is because their organism is still growing, starting from the musculoskeletal system, so there is the great danger of shaping their position in an impossible (or at least very difficult) way to correct over the years.

And the chances are great that the posture even in smartphones in your pocket or far away will be curved, hunched, with permanent muscular tensions and the door wide open to pains and situations that are not at all pleasant even in early adulthood. Pain that can also occur at an early age in the dorsal area or the spine.

How to heal from the wrong posture

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To try to give relief and to correct this postulating change, there are two possible ways, namely the use of continuous drugs and the support of a physiatrist . As always, do-it-yourself is strongly discouraged and it is always better to turn to professionals who can identify the problem in detail to provide consistent solutions.

On the one hand it will be possible to experience less pain during daily life and on the other to follow exercises that go to reinforce the muscular apparatus, especially located in the affected areas. It goes without saying that these exercises must be personalized on the individual and their own problems; one more reason to trust only those who have studied and have experience.

How to avoid incorrect posture

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The adage "prevention is better than cure" is really real and true in this case because it is never too late to realize if you are going on the bad road with an increasingly worse posture as time passes and if some pains begin to emerge located.

The first detail to keep under control is the boss . This is because they all tend to bend the neck forward with the result that the muscles have to do an incredible job to "hold" the substantial weight of the head. Muscular tensions that cause damage not only on the spot but in the whole back up to the pelvis. Therefore, it is better to keep the smartphone perpendicular to the ground and at eye level trying to concentrate on the neck and "looking straight ahead", feeling the shoulders opening as well as the chest and lumbar area that slightly forward. The benefit will be immediate.

And this is also true for the computer as we often tend to stay seated with the screen down and we do it. Better to position the monitor (fixed or portable) always at eye level and perpendicular to the ground, perhaps using special supports and extenders. The forearms must rest to release weight and release tension, with benefits from the wrist to the elbow to the shoulders.

Last, but not least , the discussion on the need to take regular breaks (even if we are playing, chatting or browsing on a smartphone or tablet) adopting this time for exercises of simple stretching or muscle strengthening, without exaggerating naturally.

Exercises to relax the muscles

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A short list of exercises to relax the muscles and "reset" incorrect posture and frequent mistakes. Each step must be repeated from sitting six or eight times with repeated winds:

  • Tilt the head to the right and left, stopping on each side

  • Bring the chin to touch the sternum and extend backwards without experiencing pain

  • Make a head twist on the vertical plane first left then right

  • Extend your hands and move your head forward to return to the starting position

All without experiencing pain or numbness. In conclusion, with a little bit of common sense and self-awareness, you can go to reduce the hassles and protect your well-being.

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