Do you find yourself with an aching upper back or neck blaming not enough exercise or an ageing body? Have you stopped to consider whether it is your iPhone causing the problem? Research featured this weekend in the New York Times declares that smartphones are destroying our posture and with it our self-esteem.
Physiotherapists like Steve August in New Zealand are calling it the iHunch and Amy Cuddy in New York who calles it the iPosture. And if you take a look around as you walk down the street, it is everywhere!!
The research shows that there is s direct correlation between the size of the device and how much it affects people. The smaller the device, the more you contract your body downwards to use it, creating dowagers humps in your shoulders as you pore over the devices, affecting your shoulders, neck and head muscles. But it is more than just an uncomfortable and damaging hunch.
Amy Cuddy, author of author of soon to be released book “Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges” says that we should be aware of how our hunching is influencing our feelings and behaviours? Ms Cuddy and her research partner Maarten Bos at Harvard have randomly assigned participants to interact for five minutes with one of four electronic devices that varied in size: a smartphone, a tablet, a laptop and a desktop computer.
“We then looked at how long subjects would wait to ask the experimenter whether they could leave, after the study had clearly concluded. We found that the size of the device significantly affected whether subjects felt comfortable seeking out the experimenter, suggesting that the slouchy, collapsed position we take when using our phones actually makes us less assertive — less likely to stand up for ourselves when the situation calls for it.”
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Ms Cuddy says there are ways we can fight the iHunch and that we should try to at all times.
“Keep your head up and your shoulders back when looking at your phone. You can also try stretching and massaging the two muscle groups that are involved in the iHunch – those between the shoulder blades and the ones along the sides of the neck. This helps reduce scarring and restores elasticity.”
She also insists that you should be alert for how hunching into these positions might affect your self esteem, saying she has seen evidence that slouching changes your mood, your memory and behaviour, and that improving your posture could be the key to a happier existence?