A spinal epidemic has happened right before our eyes, in our own homes, and continues to grow somewhat unnoticed. With poor posture habits on the rise due to repeated neck stress toward digital devices, adults and young children are experiencing an increase in pain management to correct tech neck and spinal issues.
Posture complications don’t happen suddenly; the body sends warning signals to alert you time and time again. Imagine if you had a body dashboard (like a car) to warn you of severe migraines, neck pain, intensified allergies and compromised breathing. Body-shaped icons light up the dash and beep, “Hey there, we’re in trouble.” Well — it kind of gives us a warning and we’re not always very good at paying attention.
Hear us out, posture correction is a concern for all ages and especially crucial for a child’s optimal spinal development. Good posture affects every part of our well-being. And the good news is, there are solutions you can put into practice in the comfort of your own home.
Why Bad Posture and Tech Neck Have Become an Epidemic
Over the course of time, cultures everywhere have changed due to the advancement in technology and the impact it has made on everyday lives. More than ever, we’re using electronic devices for work, education, communication, entertainment, navigation, social media and even babysitting solutions for young children. Although advancing technology may keep us productive in some ways, studies have shown that receiving constant and chaotic messaging comes with a price.
According to the National Spine Health Foundation, nearly 100 million Americans are suffering from neck and back pain. Although the root problem of back pain varies, the medical industry is seeing an increase in reported cases related to slouching the back and stressing the neck to view electronic devices over the course of several hours every day. On average, adults 18+ are looking at their phones 58 times a day and spending 3–4 hours total. This may not seem like a lot of time considering 24 hours in a day. However, studies indicate that it takes approximately 23 minutes and 15 seconds to refocus on the productive activity after a series of compulsive phone checks. If it takes almost half an hour to refocus after each phone check, consider how much time a person is dedicating to a handheld device versus other activities (or people).
For some, hours of screen time is a paycheck or required for education. Across the globe, e-learning and working remotely have increased significantly since Covid 19. Bad habits of tilting the head or slumping the shoulders toward a computer or handheld device for an extended period of time will inevitably cause damage to the body.
No one is immune to the risks associated with bad posture or tech neck. Researchers have reported that children ages 8-18 are spending an average of 7 hours per day in front of a screen. A recent study from the National Library of Medicine indicated that “new technologies are inducing a shift in the prevalence of this relevant issue from adulthood to all of the pediatric ages.” While electronic devices are designed to teach and keep children entertained, too much screen time may lead to serious problems. Bad posture and tech neck are now a real concern with school-age children as well as teens.
Adopting healthy, consistent habits is required by all ages to keep the body and mind functioning properly.
Photo: Key Potential Chiropractic
4 Proven Solutions to Fix Your Posture
In an earlier blog, ergonomics expert, Kara Froula, unveiled her personal health journey with poor posture and the painful effects she experienced from working daily in front of a computer for long hours at a time. Froula also revealed some proven posture correction tips that can be incorporated into day-to-day life at home or at work that may provide significant relief.
So, let’s talk about slowing down from the endless use of screens and embracing these four steps that could be life-changing.
1. Develop and practice daily postural and body awareness.
Be mindful of your body position when you look at your handheld device, television, or computer screen at home. Are you slouching your shoulders? Is your neck protruding toward the screen? Do you feel aches or pain after long periods of viewing? When you aren’t looking at a screen, intentionally focus on your alignment as you walk, sit, stand, and eat meals. You’ll feel taller, look confident and be more energized.
2. Make your workspace work for you.
This includes good desk posture, a comfortable and adjustable desk chair that supports the spinal curve and adequate leg space under the desk. For homeschool or remote workspaces, it might be time for a makeover, especially if the dining room table or couch is causing discomfort, bad posture or tech neck.
3. Take several breaks from viewing your screen and set timers to start and stop.
When pausing for breaks, take deep breaths, rest your eyes and stretch your body. A recent article from Forbes Magazine quotes Wendy Katzman, a physical therapist and former professor at the University of California San Francisco Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science. Katzman describes using the Y, W, and T method of stretching. “With your core muscles engaged, bring your arms into a W position while pressing your shoulder blades back and down. Next, reach overhead into a Y position while pressing your shoulder blades back and down. Then, bring your arms into a horizontal T position with your palms up and shoulder blades back and down.”
Provide opportunities for children to exercise at a playground, in the backyard, or indoor activities such as dancing, yoga, hide-and-go-seek or building a living room fort. It’s important to move the body several times a day through stretching, exercise or play.
4. Wearing a posture corrector is another simple solution for those who struggle with alignment issues, tension, strain and tech neck or “text neck.”
No one considers poor posture a problem until pain and other symptoms arise. It’s important to take preventive measures to avoid serious complications later.
BackEmbrace, a doctor-recommended orthopedic posture corrector, is a comfortable and attractive posture solution that can be comfortably worn under or stylishly over your clothing. What’s unique about the posture corrector for men and women is its immediately without the need to wear it all day long. Just slide the adjustable, elastic brace around both shoulders for an hour or two and you’ll instantly feel the gentle retracting of the shoulders.
Unlike some posture support devices that are hard and uncomfortable, BackEmbrace gently supports and lifts the shoulder area with a smooth, elastic material that fastens easily with a front closure and no skin chafing or pinching. The beauty of this posture device is the split-strap system that fits comfortably around the front and back of the shoulders and adjusts to each body frame for a custom fit.
“If you’re constantly supporting the spine in a certain position, it can make the muscles in the spine atrophy and become lazy, which is why a soft brace like BackEmbrace can help a lot,” says Dr. Amir Vokshoor, spinal neurosurgeon and chief of spine at St. John’s Hospital in Santa Monica, California, and founder of NeuroVella Brain Spa.
When to See a Doctor for Tech Neck
It’s important to speak to your doctor or pain specialist if you or your child experience any discomfort, numbness or pain. Poor posture and its effects on spinal alignment, proper breathing, restful sleep, and a list of other health-related functions are often overlooked and not taken seriously. Be aware of any changes in posture alignment and immediately correct the body from slouching, rounding shoulders and tech neck bending.
Relax the Brain and Body
Changing improper posture and the amount of screen time will primarily rely on deliberate mindfulness and willingness to do what mothers and their mothers have reminded us for decades — “Sit up straight.” It turns out that our mothers were right. Good posture is more than just visibly appealing; this part of our body is a sturdy foundation that the body’s systems rely on. During every moment of life, the body is hard at work and systematically keeps everything running smoothly. Every person has the responsibility to do their part to help the body function properly in a high-tech, noisy, demanding and multi-tasking world. Sometimes the best gift you can give your body is to be still and turn off all the noise. Schedule little quiet periods of time throughout your day or night—even just 5 minutes can help relax the brain and body.
Be good to your body and be mindful of what other joy is present in the world that isn’t connected to wifi. Stand tall and peace out.