Smartphones and other electronic devices are contributing to an increasing incidence of pain associated with musculoskeletal injuries. This statistic makes sense when you think about it. Maintaining a prolonged static posture, usually with our neck flexed and shoulders slumped, is troublesome enough. But couple this with our lack of exercise and movement when using said electronic device, and it’s a recipe for problems.
Next time you’re waiting for an appointment, or on the train, or simply walking around Melbourne’s streets, take note of how many people are looking down at their mobiles. Computer screens are an issue too, with desk jobs a leading cause of neck and back pain, as well as headaches. But adults aren’t the only ones at risk. Children and teenagers who spend too much time using their iPads or playing video games can experience musculoskeletal issues too. In fact, at their age the spine is still developing, so they could be setting themselves up for a lifetime of back problems.
So what can you do to avoid the curse of electronic devices? The simple answer is to move more and spend less time looking down at our screens, it’s pretty basic. However, given this technology is always within reach, it’s unrealistic to think we can avoid screen time altogether. Here’s a few basic tips that might help though:
1. Set yourself a limit on how much you use your phone or iPad. Restrict your usage to a certain number of minutes per day or impose a 30-minute break after 5-10 minutes of consecutive use. Your devices have in-built features to help you out, while there’s plenty of Apps available to help you curb your use.
2. If you’re an office worker or work from home and sitting at a desk is unavoidable, ensure your desk, chair and computer set up is appropriate for your body. This is crucial, as poor desk positioning can create unnecessary strains on our bodies, and we only realise once it’s too late. Also schedule regular breaks (maybe on each hour) to move around and stretch out your neck, back and shoulders. All you need is a few minutes and you can set a reminder on your computer!
3. Visit an osteopath if you suffer pain, poor posture, headaches or tension that might be associated excessive use of screens and other computer technology. The Osteopaths at Inner Balance Health Clinics in Mill Park are experienced at looking at back and neck pain, and other postural issues. Our osteopaths use a range of techniques and offer exercise advice aimed at reducing muscular tension, improving joint mobility and decreasing pain.