Commuting to work on the train over the last few years I have noticed the progressive shift from people predominately reading books and newspapers to commuters reading from their smart phones. What I’ve also noticed is the poor posture that typically accompanies the use of smart phones. As an Osteopath, I often see clients with postural related back pain, neck pain and headaches. These conditions can be quite debilitating and often detract quite substantially from peoples work and daily life. Osteopathy typically helps these symptoms quite substantially and rapidly, but if a patient with postural related pain does not reform their bad habits, which led to their symptoms in the first place, then most likely, the pain will come back sooner rather than later.
An Osteopath’s role in this case (and really every case for that matter) is to obviously ease the patient’s symptoms through manual therapy, but a large component of the consultation should be directed at ergonomic advice to ensure that the factors that brought on the patients symptoms in the first place are eliminated or modified as quickly and effectively as possible.
Osteopath’s will often quite comprehensibly implement strategies into a patients work place to improve their postural related pain, things such as consulting the companies HR department (Corporate Pilates / Yoga), regular breaks from their desk, stretching and self-massage techniques whilst at the desk, etc., all work really well. However, a component that some manual therapists can often miss, is what their patients posture is like whilst they are commuting to work, specifically how they use and hold their smart phone. I think this is a crucial component in the management of postural related pain, as a patient may have aggravated/caused their injury before they have even got to work!
Ok, so what can you do about this? The first step is to get the smartphone user to hold the phone up at or close to eye level. When you look down to view your smart phone, you can put an enormous amount of stress through your neck and shoulders and can put yourself at greater risk of causing or aggravating pre-existing postural related pain. Alternatively, if you feel that your arms get tired because you are holding your phone up at eye level, you can rest your bag on your lap and then rest the phone on your bag. Even better, don’t use your smart phone at all, just enjoy the scenery as you travel or even better, talk to someone!
The increasing use of smart phones and the poor postures that accompany this increased use, have the potential to place significant stress on an individual’s neck and shoulders leading to postural related pain and headaches. If smart-phone users can adopt better postures whilst using their devices, it may significantly help reduce the incidence and severity of their postural related pain.
If this sounds like you then please call 9939 1289 or book online immediately to see one of our experience team of Osteopaths or Remedial Massage Therapists to have you postural related pain examined and treated.
What strategies do you use to improve your posture whilst using a smart phone?
Dr Nicholas Tripodi
Osteopath at Melbourne Osteopathy Sports Injury Centre