Despite the many benefits of having information at your fingertips, smartphones and tablets can damage your body and overall health in unexpected ways.
You may not realize it, but all that time spent with your head down checking e-mail and texting may be creating more than a social gap — you may also be harming your spine. Research suggests that spinal pressure actually doubles with each inch you bend your head down.
Smartphone users spend an average of two to four hours per day hunched over, according to a recent report in Surgical Technology International. As a result, back, neck, shoulder and arm pain have increased among users of electronic gadgets, and the effects may linger for years.
“There can be harmful results to long-term health and spinal function from poor posture and hunching over technical gadgets frequently,” states Christopher Belluzzo, Doctor of Chiropractic and owner of South Main Chiropractic Clinic in Blacksburg, “Students and young people may not feel badly in the moment while checking e-mail and texting, but cumulative, adverse effects may be experienced in someone’s 20s and 30s.”
The spine protects the nervous system, and that coordinates most all the functions in your body. Spine alignment changes can disturb nerve communication in many ways and create pain and discomfort in the neck, shoulder, back or pelvic regions or legs.
Frequent, unnatural, posture position has a negative impact on muscles and ligaments as well, and can cause unpleasant gastrointestinal issues and hyperkyphosis — a condition where the spine curvature is significantly exaggerated. The latter can result in a higher risk of pulmonary and arterial health problems. When posture or other factors cause a misalignment, a spinal adjustment is one way to help restore normal nerve function and communication, allowing your body to work naturally once again.
In addition to recommending exercises that strengthen your core postural muscles in an effort to sustain and improve posture, a chiropractor can also assist you with identifying proper posture techniques to use during daily activities that help reduce the risk of pain and injury.
“Addressing misalignments is key to the healing process, but is really only part of what is needed,” Dr Belluzzo indicates. “Changes to study and work posture also play a key role in improvement of current complaints, prevention of new problems and flare-ups of past discomforts.”
Why Posture Matters
There are many benefits to practicing good posture. According to the American Chiropractic Association, keeping your spine aligned properly:
• Ensures bones and joints are correctly aligned. This helps the muscles to be used properly, diminishing abnormal wear which can cause degenerative arthritis and joint pain.
• Places less stress on the ligaments which link the spinal joints, decreasing the chance of injury.
• Creates efficiency within muscle groups, helping the body use less energy and avoid fatigue.
• Reduces the likelihood of back and muscular pain, overuse disorders and muscle strain.
Maintaining Good Posture
Ditching your smartphone probably isn’t a practical solution for improving posture, so instead, work to keep your posture in check with these tips:
• Avoid angling your head down for prolonged periods. Raise the device closer to eye level or use a stand to hold the screen.
• Treat back and neck pain, which may signal a posture problem or worsen poor posture habits, with regular chiropractic adjustments to keep your body balanced and flexible.
• When sitting, avoid crossing your legs and keep your knees at or below hip level. Use a back pillow to support your lower and middle back. Relax your shoulders and avoid sitting in the same position for extended periods of time.
• While standing, keep your feet shoulder width apart and your knees slightly bent. Stand straight with your shoulders pulled back and your stomach tucked in.
What to Expect from a Chiropractor
After a simple exam and consultation, you will be adjusted on a comfortably cushioned adjustment table. You are fully clothed for the duration of your visit, so wear non-restrictive clothing to make it easy to rest comfortably while lying down on the table. First visits with exam and consultation can run around 30 minutes, and follow-up appointments maybe take as few as 10 minutes. At the end of your visit, the doctor will determine the best treatment plan for your specific needs.
Chiropractic is a popular, proven, safe, effective treatment, though you might experience side effects after your first visit, such as headaches, fatigue and soreness. Typically such results are mild and disappear within 24 hours. Many insurance plans cover a limited number of chiropractic visits.
Article, in part, courtesy of Family Features and The Joint Chiropractic.