Packing our "car bag" for the beach I load up on snacks, books, crayons, and
SEVEN technological devices. You heard me right, we have iphones, ipad,
laptops, leap pads, and DVD players. We have very little "screen time" at
our house over the summer, so when it comes to hours in the car or plane I
vote for my sanity including as much screen time as needed.
As a physical therapist, do you know what I worry about most when it comes
to my kids and screen time?
Posture! The way they sit hunched over with their necks crooked, knees
up to support the device, elbow bent, thumbs tapping, and generally a stiff
It's not just the kids! All of us use portable, wireless technology.
The average American adults sends 40 e-mails from a device daily.
As we scroll and tap away we are often oblivious to the position
that puts us in.
The 5 Postures to Avoid when using our technological devices:
1. Text Neck
Perhaps the most talked about, this is the position we sit in when looking at
our smart phones. The Mayo Clinic states this "forward head posture leads
to long term muscle strain, disc herniations, arthirtis, and pinched nerves".
In fact, with your head bent forward at this angle, it adds 60 lbs of extra
weight on your spine (equivalent of carrying around an average 8 year old).
This extra stress results in chronic headaches, neck pain, and upper back
2. Laptop Slump
Laptops are designed for convenience, not ergonomics. With the keyboard
attached to the screen, it is nearly impossible to find a comfortable position
to work. We have to hold it way too far out in front of us in order to properly
see the screen with arms extended or we are slumped over top of it.
The result. . . a rounded spine that becomes stiff and painful.
Many complain of both upper and lower back pains, as well as shoulder
3. Tablet Thigh Rest
Where else are you going to put your tablet when on the go, but resting on your
thighs? But to see the device on your thighs, you must look down. Not just on
the go, I find myself doing this even sitting in my bed.
Sitting like this puts our necks and spine in a strained position. The worse part
is the long long hours we remain this way. Over time, this position has been found
to result in early onset of arthritis in both the neck and back.
4. Bent Body
Sitting with our smart phones, e-readers, and gaming devices we generally keep
our elbows bent. It's not that bent elbows is inherently a bad posture, but the
length of time we remain this way is.
We keep our wrists stiff, fingers scrunched, and thumbs tapping. This can result
in tendinitis - inflammation of the cords that attach bone to muscle. Pain can occur
in your shoulders, elbows, wrists, or hands. Without treatment or performing
proper movement the muscle can become fibrotic and scarred leading to loss of
movement, less strength, and pain.
5. Cocked Head
When talking on the phone or using devices that aren't directly in front of us,
we cock our head to the side. This is can also occur when sharing a device to
watch a show or movie be it at home or on a plan. Obvious neck pain and
stiffness can ensue. However, this can also effect your shoulder and upper
back due to tight and spasmed muscles.
The phone is perhaps the easiest to correct. . . use a head set!
The biggest problem with all these postures, is the frequent, repetitive, and
lengthy time that we remain in the position. Our muscles, joints, and spine feel the
impact of unnecessary strain, overwork, and poor posture for extended periods
So. . .What to do about it?
- Hold your smart phone at eye level
- Sit with your ears over your shoulders
- Use devices on a stable base
- Use a separate keyboard so you can reach it comfortably
- Keep your back straight
- Hinge at your hips when you must lean forward
- Sit slightly reclined to decrease neck strain
- Retract (pull back) your shoulders
And the #1 tip. . . . Move and stretch.
Just change positions as frequently as possible. Our bodies are designed
to be active. Our joints and muscle need regular movement for optimal
If you do have back pain from being slumped over a device, we invite you to
download our FREE E-book "7 Solutions to End Back Pain".