iPosture …. If you’ve never heard of it – it is the new big complaint, particularly among 18 – 24 year olds. iPads and other tablet devices are increasingly being used by children all over the world for both education and social activities. The use of these devices has revolutionised the way we work but at what cost. Both anecdotal and research evidence supports that there is an increase in neck and back problems in children as a result of the usage of tablets.
We visited the Fresher’s Fair at SouthamptonUniversity last week and I was amazed at the number of students who said that they had back, neck or shoulder pain when I asked them. I don’t remember having pain in my joints until I was much older!
Apparently in a survey conducted by the healthcare provider Simplyhealth, 84 percent of those aged 18 – 24 admitted to having suffered back pain in the past year. This age group now loses more working days a year to back pain than those in their parents’ generation.
So why iPosture? Well, one factor could be the increasing time spent in front of screens in particularly bad postures. It is much easier to achieve a good posture in front of a desk top computer than it is in front of a note-book or a tablet computer. Tablet or notebook usage encourages too much of a bend at the neck due to the position that the positioning of the device. It is very difficult to achieve a good position with tablets and prolonged and excessive stress placed on the neck, back and shoulders is the result. This exposes the user (which in many cases would be a child or adolescent) to stressful forces for long periods resulting in neck pain, headaches, jaw pain, shoulder and back pain.
Dr Brian Hammond, chiropractor and chair of BackCare the national back pain charity, said that all age groups now spend as much time in front of a computer, laptop or tablet screen in total as they do asleep in bed – some more so. The typical young adult spends 8.83 hours a day in front of a screen and for the older generation it is around 6.64 hours but the younger group are more likely to slouch while doing so and parents are less likely to nag their children to sit up straight than in the past.
There are two aspects that are vital to deal with:
- The time spent in front of devices without taking breaks or correcting their posture.
- Encouraging less stressful postures whilst using any device.
I recommend people have micro breaks every 15 minutes. Don’t allow yourself to sit for longer for longer than 30 minutes without a 5 minute timeout. This means getting up and moving around.
You can reduce the acute neck angle by positioning the tablet. This might mean that you place it on a table as you would in a desktop situation. A recent study done at Harvard University demonstrated that one should not rely solely on the cases available as these still don’t reduce the angle much to reduce the neck angle and forces. An external keyboard can help with better positioning of the tablet if typing.
Bottom line – keep moving regularly, DON’T SLOUCH! And if you see your friends or children doing so then tell them how unattractive it is and potentially painful!
Call us if you do have pain though and we can treat you to get rid of it and also give you some corrective exercises to prevent it coming back!