As a Chiropractor, I am constantly noticing people's body and head posture as they are walking, waiting for the bus or standing. It is a RARE experience to observe someone walk, wait for the bus or stand WITHOUT looking down at their mobile phone. Recently I witnessed someone checking their phone while riding their bike, and a couple teens while riding their skateboard. And we have all seen the driver in the car next to us trying to read or send a text - while driving 60 mph! When we stop and think about this it seems like crazy behavior. Yet in our culture it is ubiquitous, accepted, and even expected in some circles.
Research has shown that the average adult checks his or her phone 50 to 300 times daily. The average teen checks their phone 3 to 4 times that frequency! This constantly looking down is not only having a negative effect on our physical structure, but also on our moods and interpersonal relationships (see links to articles below).
On the physical level, pain is the reason patients come in to see me. The cause of the pain over 90% of the time is repetitive stress, which leads to poor posture. Our head weighs 10 to 14 pounds. For every inch our head is bent down, the stress on our neck and upper back doubles. The number of hours each day that our heads are bent down eventually alters the curves in our spine.
I'm especially concerned with teens. Many I see have a straightening of the cervical curve (not a good thing). I evaluated one teen with a reversed cervical curve (definitely not good).
What can we do about this? To start, here's your homework...
I encourage you to increase your awareness of your posture when you are on your mobile phone, laptop or tablet. Think 'head above my shoulders'. Or as one article states, "Keep your head up!"
I invite you to resurrect the lost art of idleness. Instead of checking your phone every free moment, pause, take a deep breath, and observe what is going on around you. For a few moments, re-experience what doing absolutely nothing feels like.
Challenge yourself and your family to turn off all technology by 10:00 on weeknights, and take a five-minute break once an hour from your desk.
And lastly, contact me for specific stretches you can do to counter your forward bending habits.
To dive deeper into this subject, I recommend you read these revealing articles.