The answer is likely yes -; especially if you’re a young adult or a woman. “iPad neck” -; persistent pain in the neck and upper shoulders caused by slouching or bending into extreme positions while using tablet computers -; is a growing problem among Americans, according to a new UNLV study. Findings, released last week in The Journal of Physical Therapy Science, show:
“iPad neck,” sometimes called “tablet neck,” is usually associated with sitting without back support, such as on a bench or on the ground, or slumping over the tablet while it rests in the user’s lap. Other postures significantly associated with pain included using tablets while lying on the side or back.
I constantly see runners working on their core. They do planks. They do sit ups. They do a terrifying exercise because they saw it on the internet. They all hear that they need a strong core, so they strive to achieve it!
As a clinician, I also see a number of non-runners, many of whom have heard the same thing. Build your core. Sit with better posture. Both groups typically have a misunderstanding of what this means. In fact, I think most of us have struggled through the years at exactly what this means.
Posture is one of those things that gets talked about endlessly, but few truly understand what it means. We constantly hear, sit up straight, stand up tall, but the fact of the matter is, this isn’t what good posture means!
Physical therapist Rupal Patel (@rupal512) joins Here & Now‘s Jeremy Hobson to explain why slouching is bad for you, and share advice on ways you can stop.
What Is Good Posture, And Why Is It Important?
“To me, good posture is carrying your body in a way that is mechanically safe,” Patel says. “So, that means that your spine is in its natural curves, which allows the muscles to activate from the inside out, and gives us a solid foundation for when we need to move.
That old REM song was right: you should stand in the place where you work. And now, according to some researchers, you can tack on “for about 2 to 4 hours a day” to the lyrics.
A new consensus statement from an international expert panel has established that workers whose jobs are “predominantly desk-based” should stand at least 2 hours per workday and move toward the goal of 4 hours of standing for optimum health. The recommendations were developed in response to multiple studies that have established the negative health effects of prolonged sitting, and media coverage that dubbed sitting as “the new smoking.”
Want to feel more instability at work? Say hello to the standing desk surfboard.
A recent article in Fast Coexist features “The Level,” the latest addition to office furniture designed to encourage healthy physical habits in the workplace. Essentially a kind of skateboard deck with a curved bottom, the Level is an attempt to provide standing desk users with an unstable (though safe) platform that requires more muscles to maintain balance.
The device capitalizes on growing concern over the detrimental health effects of long periods of sitting, and a move toward desks that require that users stand, or self-adjust to allow standing work as an option.
Fans of standing desks may want to take a seat for this: apparently, it’s hard to come by solid research confirming that the new trend in desks actually decreases time spent sitting.
A newly released Cochrane review of studies on the effects of interventions aimed at reducing sitting time for office workers asserts that most evidence to date is of “low to very low quality.” (APTA members can access the full text via the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews in PTNow ArticleSearch.
The good news? That low-to-very-low quality evidence seems to point toward a reduction in sitting time when study participants used a “sit-stand desk” that would allow them to work standing up at least part of the time.
A recent story in the Washington Post describes the upcoming publication of a study that analyzed the burden placed on the cervical spine through the typical posture of people looking at their smartphones—head tilted down at angles as severe as 60 degrees. At that angle, researchers determined that weight on the cervical spine increases to about 60 pounds.
According to the Post report, the “text neck” posture seen just about everywhere is like “carrying an 8-year-old around your neck several hours per day,” at the rate of between 700 to 1,400 hours a year. For adolescents, that number could be 5,000 hours higher. The poor posture can lead to degeneration of the spine.
A July 21 Wall Street Journal article reports on preliminary studies of “posture” shirts—essentially shirts with built-in elastic bands that work with muscle groups to correct slumping shoulders and drooping heads—that show improvements in neck and back pain, and some increase in sports performance.
The WSJ article points out that even if the shirts do alter posture while they’re worn, the issues behind the posture problem may not be properly addressed—an idea attributed to Timothy Sell, PT, who was interviewed for the piece. Sell points out that underlying problems, such as an imbalance between pectoral and back muscles, need to be corrected to truly address poor posture.
While millions of American men and women will experience lower back pain this year, a little bit of prevention can go a long way to lessen the severity of the pain or even avoid it altogether. Here are some simple steps to better back care:
1. Don’t be a slouch
Mom was right when she told you to sit up straight. Good posture helps minimize chronic back conditions because it strengthens core muscles and can reduce pain. Your stomach and back muscles work in tandem to support your spine.
Strong muscles and flexibility in the lower body area — hips, thighs and pelvic area — is important for good pelvic alignment and support. Take care of your body for less pain.
2. Exercise regularly
Walking, swimming, riding your bike, or even taking a walk around the mall can improve your muscle function. Thirty minutes of walking a day will help improve chronic pain, prevent injury, and offer many other health benefits, such as decreasing your risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, coronary artery disease and many other problems.
ON ANY day in Australia, one quarter of the population suffers back pain, according to the University of Sydney.
At the same time, nearly 80% of adult Australians will experience back pain sometime during their lives.
In fact back pain is the leading cause of lost work days with 25% of sufferers in the 18-44 age group taking 10 or more days off per year.
This costs Australia about $4.8 billion each year for health care.
If you suffer from chronic or acute back pain, you may be tempted to visit your GP for painkillers and for x-rays and these may indeed be necessary.
However, conquering back pain may require a more comprehensive approach, including physiotherapy, osteopathy, daily exercises, adjustments to your work station, a different sleeping and standing posture and more.
Taking classes in Alexander Technique may also help you learn to use your body differently, while Pilates classes can help strengthen your core muscles to support your back.