When growing up, I played with the kids in the neighborhood—kicking balls, riding bikes, throwing footballs and baseballs. When we weren’t in school, we ran around outside playing freeze tag and hide-n-seek.
During the elementary school years, I got my first game system, a Sega Genesis, and then some computer games. These were the first indoor activities I engaged in with friends. The Sega Genesis hooked up to the TV. We sat on the floor or sofa to play. The computer game discs were loaded on desktops since laptops hadn’t yet come on the market. Playing required looking level at the screens.
Today, electronics have gotten smaller. They’re handheld—our phones, e-readers, laptops, tablets—convenient and portable, but they pose problems for children and adults. No longer are TV couch potatoes the only ones in jeopardy. The problems are twofold. Sitting while using our devices promotes a sedentary lifestyle, leading to weight gain and heart disease. Did you know that sitting has now been rated as worse than smoking? 1 Also, due to angling our heads down to focus on the handheld screens, our spines, especially the neck, are stressed, which over time can lead to misalignment of the spine and distortion of natural spinal curves.2, 3 This in turn puts tension on your spinal cord creating a disconnect between brain and body.
I understand we cannot completely avoid using our devices. It’s our online way of life—paying bills, making reservations, listening to music, following the social media, getting directions, texting friends, researching anything…but we can make sure to use our devices in a way that serves us well without doing damage to ourselves. I touched on this in last weeks article “ Got Posture”, where I talked about using a standing desk to avoid sitting. Also, you can limit the time you use your devices. If you have to use them in your work, get up every thirty minutes to stretch and walk, reversing the hunched over and neck down position utilized while looking at your screens. Walk your dog, throw the ball to your kids, or go on a hike. It’s not the few seconds it takes to text someone. It’s the accumulation of time in the same posture day-by-day, year-to-year that leads to spine issues. Prevention is better than remediation. Not having symptoms and optimal health are not synonymous. Consider a neurologic evaluation as part of a healthy lifestyle. If you are already having problems don’t let them get worse. I would love to sit down and talk with you about your health challenges and health goals.