Back Pain, Posture and Mobile Phones

How much time do you spend glued to a mobile screen, and could that contribute to back pain?  How much time do kids spend glued to a mobile screen?  I know one of my teenage kids sleeps with his mobile phone; I don’t know if he falls asleep with it in his hand or just tucks it up beside him before falling asleep, but it’s certainly there in his bed in the morning when I attempt to rouse him (why is it no longer acceptable to tip them out of their beds?).

A couple of years ago I was in the habit of checking emails on my iphone in the bathroom as soon as I got up – before splashing my face, before breakfast, before all of the long-established “first thing in the morning” habits.  Same at bedtime – at least I continued my old habit of reading a few pages of a book after checking emails and before nodding off with the book hitting me in the face a few times.

But are mobile phones the modern day equivalent of the mythological Greek Seirenes, luring us in only to destroy us in the process?  In a word – “Yes”.   Poor sleep, breakdown in face-to-face communication (don’t get me started on mobiles at the dinner table), dangers of radiation, and to cap it all… pain!  Surely no-one could have failed to notice the appalling posture adopted by many (especially teenagers) when using a mobile.  This would be OK if we used them briefly and infrequently, but some folk spend hours in a day hunched over, looking down.

A hunched posture leads to increasing muscular tension, a slow down in circulation, greater strain on joints, more compression of some spinal discs – all round it’s bad for you when done for more than a couple of minutes at a time.  Your head is about the weight of a bowling ball – having it hanging forward massively increases the loading on muscles and vertebral discs.  So next time you have a sore neck/shoulder/back/wrist, just ask yourself “How much time do I spend on a mobile in a day?”

Apart from spending less time on small screens, what else can you do to help yourself?  MOVE!!!  Remember, it’s “Use it or Lose it, but Don’t Abuse it!”; get up and move around more – move your shoulders, open up your chest, swing your arms around.  You could start with these exercises you can do sitting down.  As ever, let me know if you have any questions.

Don’t forget, I’m still trying to help a million people get a better back – more news on this soon!  And if your employer is considering a health week, I’d love to come and talk at it!  I’m also keen to take the message to kids in schools – I know convincing teenagers is tough, but we’ve got to try. 😉

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