Technology troubles – poor posture and spinal development
BY WENDY M. HENRICHS
Chiropractic Pediatrician and Nutrition Counselor
We live in a world where technology dominates our daily lives. From watching TV, utilizing computers for work, video games for kids, and of course, staring at our smart phone for hours mindlessly scrolling through social media or playing games. It is clear that the world would not be what it is today without technology. However, as technology rapidly grows its consequences are starting to catch up with our health and they are presenting us with serious problems.
Children, teenagers and young adults are developing hunchbacks due to the poor posture associated with constant use of cell phones and other devices with screens. We used to associate bad posture, slouching shoulders and a hunchback as a sign of old age or a symbol of depression. Now, even the strong-willed, the leaders and the empowered are developing hunchbacks while they are young. The American Academy of Pediatrics has recently addressed technology’s ill effects on today’s children and teenagers in the correlation with obesity and lack of exercise.
No matter what piece of technology you use, your neck and nerves may be paying the ultimate price. For every inch you look down at your phone, the weight of your head increases by roughly 10 pounds. Multiply these by several hours a day, seven days a week for months on end and what happens? This forward head translation places an enormous amount of stress on spinal bones, nerves and the muscles of your neck and upper back. Try bending your head down and take a deep breath to see how our technology use can affect body functions such as breathing. Looking down for hours on end can lead to headaches, neck pain and a hunching of the back. The hunchback is your body’s method of adapting and coping with the stress that looking down on your phone places on your neck and spine.
Spinal growth and development can be affected in children and teenagers who have not finished developing leaving a permanent problem or even a hunchback, as the spine will develop based on the continued stresses placed on it.
Here are some ways you can minimize and prevent the negative effects of ongoing technology use:
• When using a laptop, use a stand so that you are looking at the screen and not looking down.
• Hold your smartphone or tablet at eye level as if you were holding a book up to read it. This will minimize the amount you look down.
• If you use your tablet or smartphone in bed; sit up with your back supported and your knees bent so you can hold your device on your knees assuring it will be at eye level.
• At school and work make sure that your screen is at eye level and you are sitting up straight in your chair with your feet flat on the floor.
• Put a limit on “passive” screen time or the use of social media, games, etc.
Technology’s ill effects on the development of children and teenagers as well as their lack of exercise and movement are deeply concerning. It will be years before we understand the full extent of the negative effect technology use has on the growth and development of children. Use technology sensibly, provide limitations for you and your children, and utilize the strategies above to minimize the negative effects technology has on your body.
Dr. Wendy Henrichs is a board certified chiropractor and nutrition counselor at Timber Land Chiropractic in Rhinelander. For a complimentary chiropractic, nutrition or lifestyle counseling consultation, visit TimberlandChiropractic.com, Facebook, or call 715-362-4852.