Can screen-time affect your health?

Technology has certainly shaped our society and culture. Screen-time is now a common word. However, does that mean it should shape us too? 

Spending time on your cellphone playing Candycrush, at a desktop computer for work, or on a tablet sinking into the sofa eventually develops a bad posture. Young adults are increasingly susceptible, especially going back to school.

Too much screen-time

Studies show looking down at your mobile device places up to a 60-pound weight on your neck — equal to 4 bowling balls! We call this phenomenon “Tech Neck”. It describes the forward flex of the head and neck, from spending too much time looking down at a wireless device. This leads to injuries and pain — headaches, upper back, shoulder, neck or arm pain.

What can happen

Prolonged screen-time has been shown to cause changes in the neck proprioception (the joint position sense of the body that controls most of our balance and posture). Why are proprioception and reflexes so important? Your brain requires constant stimulation from the body. This is the connection the brain uses to communicate with the body. When the neck becomes changed due to contact stress, the brain is affected (1).

The average adult spends 3.6 hours daily looking at their phones, not as bad as the average high school student though! (2) If you fall into this time slot and notice some clumsy habits, chances are your neck is being affected by the amount of screen-time. 

Different screens for different things

Woman on the phone and computer slouching
Different screens can still affect how we position our body. Slouching can compress the organs, which can lead to further complications.

Sitting at a desktop computer isn’t any better. Sure, bigger screen offers less strain on the eyes, but sitting develops a bad posture even quicker. While sitting at the computer, our bodies begin to slouch in a particular direction. Crossing your legs, or having a wallet in the back pocket increase discomfort. Slouching compresses your inner organs, thereby affecting your digestive system (1). 

Poorly positioned monitors can also cause the head to slope. At the base of the neck there is the thoracic vertebrae. The added stress can cause these bones to change – to strengthen and thicken so it can support the new head posture leaving an unwanted hump. The upper thoracic vertebrae affects organs such as the heart, lungs, and special senses. Therefore it is important to keep this part of your body agile and functional.

Additionally, poor posture, especially in the upper back, may cause the rib cage to compress down onto the pelvic bone. This may even cause you to lose a few inches from your height! When the ribs become somehow misaligned, the muscles that attach to them can get tight and weak (3). This may reduce your overall breathing capability, mobility and increase pain and discomfort.

How can physical therapy help?

Therapies such as Osteopathy, Chiropractic and Massage all can contribute to your wellbeing. 

An Osteopath will non-invasively analyze your overall body structure, and figure out where the misalignment starts. Thereby working to bring the body back into proper working condition. The treatment will open the lines through the front of the body that have been shortened from poor posture, by curling the chest and letting the head hang. This allows the body to rebound and lengthen.

A Chiropractor will assess and find joint restrictions, these are joints with decreased range of motion. Chiropractic adjustments, also known as joint manipulation, can help restore and maintain the health of your joints, muscles and nervous system.

A Registered Massage Therapist will feel where the muscles are tight, and kneads to release them. The strength of pressure is dependent on patient. Expressing your limit is key to rehabilitation. 

Still have questions? Give us a call and book an initial assessment with one of our practitioners. Our practitioners work together to develop an all encompassing treatment plan for your rehabilitation.

man's head tilted down looking at cell phone