Did you ever stop to wonder that looking down to check your phone could be causing permanent damage to your spine? It may seem far-fetched, but it is true. You don’t check your phone just once a day do you? Reports suggest that the average person looks at their phone 110 times a day.
Many children complain of neck pain as a result of excessive use of smart phones. | Image source: iStock
This doesn’t apply to us adults alone. Many children are reported to be complaining of neck, back and shoulder pain. These complaints have left many parents perplexed, but a Florida-based doctor Dr. Matt Herba says that these pains could become permanent with the extensive use of smart phones and tablets.
What are iSlouching and iGrinding?
The term iSlouching refers to when a person slumps over their phone or tablet when reading texts or playing games, causing the head to sit further forward and add pressure to their spine.
Dr. Matt herba claims that many people, specially children are complaining of neck pains and if care is not taken this could become a permanent ‘pain in the neck’ leading to irreversible damage to the cartilage and tissue between the vertebrae.
iSlouching is when someone slouches over a phone or a tablet. | Image source: iStock
Another situation that has been bought to light by orthodontists is a rise in children complaining about pain in their jaws. It was found that children tend to unconsciously grind their teeth while playing games. This leads to jaw damage – dubbed iGrinding.
iSlouching and iGrinding over a period of time can cause a condition called repetitive strain injury (RSI). RSI is a term used for various kinds of injuries to muscles, tendons or nerves caused by repetitive movement of a part of the body. However it has still not been scientifically proven that playing games or using a smart phone can cause RSI.
Kids could get text neck too if they keep looking down when playing games on the phone. | Image source: iStock
The most common problem mobile users report is called text neck. This includes numbness an pain in the neck and shoulder area. In study done by San Francisco State University, it showed that as much as 83% of mobile phone users complained of neck pain.
Combating text neck, iSlouching and iGrinding.
Our ever so busy lifestyle is heavily depended on our trusty smart phone. I can testify to this as well – my phone has everything from my baby’s meal time entertainment to my daughter’s play-date reminders to my e mail accounts, facebook and the list goes on! It would be virtually impossible to get through a day without it.
But from what we’ve learnt above, the excessive use of these devices can cause harm to our bodies. So we need to take precautions to avoid these conditions. It is as important to teach our kids ways of avoiding iSlouching and iGrinding as well. Try applying our 5 tips to combat text neck, iSlouching and iGrinding.
5 tips to avoid text neck, iSlouching and iGrinding.
1. Chin up!
It is best to bring your phone up to eye-level to avoid text neck. | Image source: iStock
The most important way to avoid various neck problems is to not look down for a long period of time. Instead on continuously looking down at your smart phone, bring it up to eye-level. This may be a bit challenging at first but try and get used to it. For instance If your kid always keeps the tablet on their lap, try propping it on a table.
2. Take a break
If you’ve been looking down at your tablet for ages, take regular breaks to flex your neck, wriggle your hands and just get moving. It is not advisable to sit in one position for too long. Same goes for kids who play games on the tablet for long periods of time. Insist that they take breaks and get some physical exercise to avoid conditions like iGrinding.
3. Hear that voice
Whenever possible, call instead of text. Unlike having to look down and type, you can give a quick call to whomever you need to get in touch with and use that time to rest your eyes and flex your neck.
4. Love your hands
Too much texting can cause yet another condition called blackberry thumb. Yes, it really does exist! The best option is to get yourself a stress ball and keep exercising your hands.
5. Tech for text
Try Fishman’s app for android phones aptly named ‘Text neck’. This app gives a green light when you hold your phone up at eye level and a red light when you are looking down. But what’s best it that this app can send a report to parents on their kid’s posture when using the phone! How cool is that?
We hope these tips will help you and your kids avoid getting the above-mentioned conditions. If you are experiencing any sort of neck pain or numbness or shoulder pain it is best to see your doctor at your earliest as this will help you avoid the risk of it worsening.
If you have any experience with text neck or iSlouching please leave us a comment below and tell us how you dealt with it.
Reference: Spine Health