- The growth of the smartphone market has caused a FIVEFOLD rise in people seeking help for back pain, new data suggests
- Tilting our head to look at our phone increases its effective weight from 12lbs upright to 60lbs at a 60-degree angle – equivalent to around FOUR BOWLING BALLS
- Posture experts provide six helpful tips to reduce the strain being put on our backs by ‘text neck’ and to try to encourage a more supportive posture
There has been a FIVEFOLD surge in the number of people searching for help with back pain since smartphones launched in 2007¹ and it’s now the world’s leading cause of disability.
Research has revealed that this is due to ‘text neck’, where the effective weight of the human head increases as we tilt it to look at our phones. The strain this puts on our back and neck is equivalent to increasing the weight of our head from 12lbs upright to 60lbs at a 60-degree angle – equivalent to four average weighted bowling balls.
Data released by posture experts, Percko, reveals that the fivefold surge in the number of people searching Google for help with the condition since the iPhone launched¹ correlates with the growth in the number of people using iPhones.
With smartphone use growing exponentially with the number of engaging features – iPhone introduced apps in 2008, front-facing ‘selfie cameras’ in 2010, 4G in 2012 and huge storage in 2016 – the issue looks like it could only get worse as levels of engagement continue to increase.
Julian Nenninger, Osteopath and Head of Research and Development at Percko, the makers of the world’s first premium posture shirt, provides advice on how to reduce the impact of smartphone use on your back and encourage a more supportive posture.
1. Hold your phone at eye level
“It’s not the act of using your phone that’s causing you to put a strain on your neck and back, it’s the way you are holding it and positioning your body as a result,” says Julian.
“Try this simple technique to bring your phone up to eye level and eradicate the issue. Just fold one of your arms across your chest and rest the elbow of the arm holding the phone on that crossed arm – simple! It’ll keep your head held high and reduce the strain on your back.
“You can mirror the effect when sat at a table or desk by resting your elbows against the surface so that the phone is level with your eyes and you can keep your neck in an upright position.”
2. Move your body
“It’s easy to stay stuck in the same position if you’re watching a film, reading a long-form article or even just scrolling on social media, but changing your position frequently and varying the tilt of your head can reduce the impact that spending too much time on your phone can have on your neck and back.
“It’s advisable not to stay in the same position for more than 15 minutes, so set reminders to move around if you’re liable to get lost in what you’re doing – your Siri or Bixby can make that super quick-and-easy.”
3. Strengthen your neck muscles
“The strain on your neck can be counterbalanced by strengthening your neck muscles to reduce its impact. This can be achieved through a few simple exercises.
“For the Prone Cobra stretch, start by lying face down on the floor. Pinch your shoulder blades together to bring your hands off the floor, then lift your forehead off the ground and hold. Repeat this 10 times.
“To do the Exaggerated Nod, sit upright and nod your head a few times to loosen up and then go for a big nod. At the point when you are looking up at the ceiling as far back as you can go, hold the position for 10 seconds and then do the same again when it is as far forward as you can stretch.”
4. Set limits for your screen time
“Both Apple and Android have now added tools to help you limit how much time you spend staring at your screen.
“Screen Time for Apple and Digital Health for Android allow you to analyse a whole host of data, from how long you spend on your phone each day, to which apps are draining most of your time, to what time of day you tend to get carried away. This can really help you to spot whether any of that time is actually wasted and you can then set time limits for certain apps to help you cut down.”
5. Talk, don’t type
“Ever find yourself responding to message after message on your phone when it would have been twice as quick – and far more sociable – to just give the person a call or pop over to see them?
“Choosing to speak to people rather than text will dramatically cut down the time you spend on your phone, and so reduce the strain you place on your neck. It will also strengthen your connection with that person, avoid any miscommunication issues and allow you to finalise the details faster – what’s not to like!”
6. Try a posture shirt
“There are a lot of cheap and ineffective products on the market when it comes to posture correction, so it’s important to do your research.
“Many products simply act as a support belt and not only are these incredibly uncomfortable but they can also lead to muscle atrophy, which is where a lack of physical activity leads to your muscles wasting away. A premium posture shirt, on the other hand, will provide your body with a stimulant that allows you to reinforce your back muscles and gradually educate itself on the correct supportive posture. It will also provide you with freedom of movement, which is really important, as the most effective posture product will always be the one that you are happy to wear.”
To find out more about Percko’s innovative posture t-shirt visit the website percko.com/en