Following on from last week’s post featuring the channel 9 news report on ‘text neck’ featuring our centre’s own director Shane Buntman, this week we look another issue where mobile device use is adversely changing our movement and posture. And this problem extends beyond the neck.
There are some rather obvious safety issues with mobile phone use when driving and cycling. Now this list has expanded to also include walking.
A group of researchers set out to investigate the effect mobile phone use may have on distraction-related walking injuries. The study analysed 30 adults walking across an 8 meter long strip with 11 motion capture cameras recording joint angles, step length, walking speed, and other gait parameters.
The findings were that step width and 2-leg stance time increased, while toe clearance, step length, and cadence decreased. Although many of the changes in movement and timing parameters generally accompany slowed gait, the complex distraction task used here may have amplified these potentially deleterious effects. The combination of the slower gait velocity and decrease in attention to the surrounding environment suggests that an individual who is texting while walking could be at a greater risk of injury. Tripping injuries while texting could be more likely due to the decreased toe clearance. In addition, increased step width may increase the likelihood of stepping on an unstable surface or colliding with obstacles in close proximity.
This may be something to think about next time you walk down a busy street and use your phone…for your own safety and those around you.
Dr Brendan O’Loughlin is an experienced Osteopath at Melbourne Osteopathy Sports Injury Centre. He is a competitive triathlete and has fantastic experience treating all sorts of sporting injuries.
Parr, N. D., Hass, C. J., & Tillman, M. D. (2014). Cellular Phone Texting Impairs Gait in Able-Bodied Young Adults. Journal of applied biomechanics.