When you look around at people on their phones, you see a lot of the same thing: curved backs and bent necks. All this time spent hunched over a phone can cause a lot of pain, both physically and emotionally. The New York Times recently wrote about how this habit is not only ruining your posture, it's also hurting your mood.
According to the NY Times, Steve August, a New Zealand physiotherapist, calls this phenomenon the "iHunch." August explained that the average head weighs 10 to 12 pounds, and when necks are bent forward 60 degrees, as it is when using a phone, the stress on the neck increases to 60 pounds, or the weight of five gallons of paint. August reported that he's started seeing dowagers' humps, a permanent curve in the upper back often developed in old age, in teenagers.
NY Times pointed out how a slouching posture is also related to or brought on by certain moods, such as sadness and fear. One 2010 study from the official journal of the Brazilian Psychiatric Association found that people with depression are more likely to have a slouched posture with necks bent forward, shoulders curved down and arms drawn in toward the body. Another study, published in Health Psychology, found that participants with poor posture, compared to those who sat upright, had significantly lower self-esteem and mood as well as greater fear.
If you find yourself constantly hunched over your phone, there are some techniques you can use to improve your posture. First, you should try to maintain an upright position as much as possible. While phone usage begets poor posture, you can form a habit to straighten and elongate your spine. First, you should avoid looking down by holding the phone at your eye, chest or chin level, instead of in your lap or below your chest. If your phone must be at those levels, you can look down with your eyes instead of with your neck.
Another better habit to form is taking breaks in your phone usage. In these breaks, stretch the muscles that are used the most in your phone position, the ones between the shoulder blades and alongside the neck. If you keep in mind how your poor phone posture creates both back and mood problems, you'll be more inclined to enforce the healthier posture habits.
If you're experiencing back pain due to mobile phone usage, schedule an appointment with a professional chiropractor today.