Smartphone apps, texting and video games. What do they have in common? Our kid’s posture. If you’ve ever watched kids while they are on their smartphone, you would see the classic posture: head down, neck craned forward, and shoulders rolled in forward. This kind of posture is very common but also not healthy and will eventually create potential complications within the body. As chiropractors, we have recognized these facts and have seen an increase of neck and back symptoms within the younger generation. A recent study published in the Journal of School Health found that 38.3 percent of children had poor posture. An even more interesting number was that 7-year-olds with poor posture was at 33 percent while 11 year olds were found to be at 41 percent. The most common complaints were headaches, neck pain, and low back pain.
This posture epidemic may have started back when schools eliminated lockers. Kids were left having to haul around backpacks with numerous academic books inside that weighed up to 50 pounds.
This strain would then force kids to pull their head and shoulders forward to handle the load. Video games is also an area of posture concern when considering our children. Hand-held video games take kids with forward head and shoulder posture. This love of the game would keep kids in this posture long after their heavy school books were tossed aside for the day and dinner was ready.
The next big posture epidemic is texting. The average teenager sends 60 texts per day. That adds up to 1,800 text messages per month! A study found that while texting, a child’s head sits 4 1/2 inches in front of neutral. Neutral position is where the ear is lined up with the shoulders. This kind of posture will then cause a disturbance within the neck and upper back. Besides texting, Facebook and homework on the computer are also causing neck disfunction. It seems that kids are only out of this posture when they are lying on their backs in bed.
So what exactly is the big deal if you have bad posture? The most common abnormal posture is carrying your head so far forward. This is called anterior head carriage, and it can produce up to 30 pounds of additional pressure on the neck. Imagine walking around all day with a bowling ball on top of your head. Now, imagine doing that for five, 10, or 20 years. This kind of damage can lead to degenerative changes in the neck — even at a young age. Symptoms that are most related by this poor posture are, spinal pain, headaches, moods, heartburn, blood pressure, pulse and lung capacity. All of these symptoms can be helped by a chiropractor.
What is being done about this? Well, some schools are going with two sets of books — one for school and and one for home and others have gone digital with books on tablets. This improvement should help with eliminating poor posture. Let’s face it; texting, Twitter, Facebook, video games, homework and backpacks are going to be here for awhile — why not bring your child in for a chiropractic consultation so they don’t grow up with unnecessary pain?
Sources: “Heath Problems Associated with Texting.” Allied Health Chiro September 26, 2013. Print.; Ventura, Dr. Joseph “Poor Posture and the Tweet Generation.” National Posture Institute June 2012 http://www.npionline.org/articles/2012_June.html. Online.
Dr. Ken Womboldt is owner of Alternative Wellness & Chiropractic Center.