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It is estimated there are over 5 billion people who own mobile phones. With over half of the world’s population engaging with electronic devices, the spotlight has been on what technology can do for us, rather than what it is doing to us. Consequently, there has been less thought on what happens to our bodies while using handheld devices.
Recent studies suggest 19 year olds have the same physical activity levels as 6o year olds. What is more, the widespread use of mobile phones has materialized into varying degrees of poor posture.
In 2013, a survey conducted in the United Kingdom, found 84 percent of young adults ages 18–24 said they’ve suffered back pain, believing this to be caused by iPosture from using mobile devices.
With the frequency and duration of phone usage across the globe, the implications of poor posture influenced by excessive usage is now well known. Yet, while today’s mobile phone users know more about why sitting slumped behind a screen isn’t good for them, they still don’t really know how to protect their stature while engaging with their devices.
You might not remember such a lesson because other than a health or physical education class, you probably didn’t learn how to use your body efficiently at school.
You were never prepared or informed on ways to respond to all the triggers of life. Instead, you just acted and reacted. You formed these habits out of necessity — to survive — with no guidance or knowledge there was an alternative choice.
Modern phones operate quite differently. They are designed to keep you on them. There are multiple triggers at play: texting, talking, reading, browsing, listening to music, watching videos, etc. Reacting to just a few of those activities simultaneously could easily put the body in overdrive.
The aim of present day technology is to keep you engaged. However, the body has a hard time keeping up with all of the choices. Reacting to so much stimuli fatigues the body and leads to collapse, or iPosture.
The body is designed to bend at the joints. Most people who use electronic devices bring their heads down and bend their spine by rounding their backs towards the device. Alternatively, it would be more efficient to move forward from the hip joints and keep the back upright in the process.
Overusing the spine and lower back muscles and under-using other muscles whose function is to hold the torso upright — like the core muscles, perpetuates body contortion.
Using the body effectively starts with awareness. While technology has been an exciting and invaluable part of life, there are more mindful ways to engage with it.
For starters, how much pressure and tension do you apply to the devices you hold and carry? Chances are, you could easily loosen your grip and still enjoy using your handheld electronics. However, pay attention to the way you engage with your beloved device.
The next time you remember to check your posture while perusing your favorite app, think ‘up’ instead of straight. Imagine your head is going up like a balloon towards the sky and your spine is the string that follows. That balloon is lifting you up with the gentle breeze that isn’t forced and that string is coming along for the ride — both floating up freely.
Technology has enabled us to connect to the world and each other in ways that weren’t previously possible. It can be easily credited with the innovation, communication and longevity we enjoy today. There are plenty of reasons to embrace and celebrate technology.
Being mindful of how much, how often and to what extent we engage with technology is key to living a balanced lifestyle.
Standing tall in a techno-savvy world is possible if we pay attention and recognize harmful habits that interfere with our body’s optimal functioning.
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