‘Smartphone Slouching’ More Serious Than It Sounds

‘Smartphone Slouching’ More Serious Than It Sounds

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 9, 2019 (HealthDay News) — The health risks that spring from poor posture while using mobile devices don’t concern many Americans, a new survey finds.

But maybe it should.

Poor posture can lead to health issues such as chronic pain in the back, neck and knees, circulation problems, heartburn and digestive problems, according to researchers from the Orlando Health system in Florida.

American adults spend an average more than 3.5 hours on their smartphones every day, meaning they may be looking down or slouching for long periods of time, they noted.

Their national survey, published Oct. 9, asked respondents their level of concern about eye strain, carpal tunnel and other potential health consequences of mobile device use. Only 47% said they were concerned about poor posture and how it affected their health.

“It’s not just when you’re scrolling on your phone, but any time you put your body in a less-than-optimal position, whether that’s reading a book, working at a desk or lounging on the couch,” said Nathaniel Melendez, an exercise physiologist at Orlando Health’s National Training Center in Clermont, Fla.

“People don’t realize the strain they’re putting on their body when it is not aligned correctly, or just how far corrective exercises and daily adjustments can go toward improving pain and postural issues,” he added in a health system news release.

“I see a lot of people compensating for poor posture with short steps, rounded shoulders, walking with their head and neck down,” Melendez said.

Even slight misalignment can put a lot of strain on the body. For every inch your head moves in front of your body, 10 pounds of pressure is added to your shoulders, he said.

“If, for example, your head is 4 inches in front of your body when you’re looking down at your phone, that’s like having a child sitting on your shoulders that whole time,” Melendez noted.

Most problems caused by poor posture are reversible with some simple changes.

“Just doing strength training will not help your posture or the pain it’s causing,” Melendez said. “I work with people specifically on strengthening their core and doing some corrective postural exercises. We also do a lot of functional training exercises, which mimic daily life.”

People who work at a desk or spend a lot of time sitting should raise their screens to eye height, sit with both feet on the floor, and take frequent breaks to get up and move around, Melendez advised.

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more on posture.

SOURCE: Orlando Health, news release, Oct. 9, 2019

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Health Tip: Living With a Herniated Disc

Health Tip: Living With a Herniated Disc

(HealthDay News) — A herniated disc is a spinal injury that can be caused by excessive strain, says the American Association of Neurological Surgeons.

Symptoms of a herniated disc can range from a soft back ache to extreme pain or numbness.

After diagnosis, doctors usually recommend that patients maintain a low, painless activity level for a few days or weeks.

For mild-to-moderate pain, patients can use anti-inflammatory medication and physical therapy. Physical therapy may entail ice and heat therapy, electrical muscle stimulation and stretching exercises.

For a herniated diss that causes severe pain, a doctor may recommend surgery.

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Health Tip: Lifting Heavy Things

Health Tip: Lifting Heavy Things

(HealthDay News) — Lifting heavy things is a leading cause of workplace injury, says the University of North Carolina.

People who practice smart lifting techniques are less likely to suffer muscle sprains, pulls and injuries caused by heavy lifting.

To properly lift a heavy item, the school recommends:

  • Prepare for the load. Think about if you are suited for the job.
  • Get as close to the load as possible.
  • Keep your back straight and bend at the knees.
  • Get a good handhold, and do not twist while lifting.
  • While carrying, move your feet to turn.
  • To put the load down, bend at the knees.
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Backpacks Shouldn’t Be a Back-to-School Burden on Health

Backpacks Shouldn’t Be a Back-to-School Burden on Health

SATURDAY, Aug. 24, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Books, tablets, lunch: Stuff can really start to weigh heavily in your kid’s school backpack.

And so experts at the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) are offering tips on backpack safety to parents as a new school year begins.

That’s because heavy and improperly worn backpacks can trigger back, neck and shoulder-related pain in children, the group says. In fact, in 2018, almost 51,000 people were seen for backpack-related injuries at emergency departments, doctors’ offices and clinics, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

“Back pain due to improperly wearing and overloading a backpack is a common symptom,” AAOS spokesperson Dr. Afshin Razi, an orthopedic spine surgeon, said in an academy news release. “To limit injuries or back pain, encourage your children to limit the load and utilize both padded straps for proper posture and weight distribution.”

Ideally, healthy children with a normal body weight should not carry more than 10%-20% of their body weight in a backpack.

Always have kids use both shoulder straps when carrying a backpack, so that the weight is distributed more evenly across the back. Tighten backpack straps to keep the load closer to the back, as well. The bottom of the backpack should sit at waist level, the AAOS said.

Kids should carry only items that are required for the school day, and heavier items should be packed low and towards the center of the pack.

If you see that your child is struggling to put on or remove a backpack due to weight, have them remove some books and carry them in their arms.

It might also be necessary to talk to the school about lightening the book load the students have to carry in their backpacks. Getting other parents involved in that effort could help convince schools to make changes, the AAOS said.

School lockers are a good resource, of course, so encourage kids to stop at their lockers whenever possible, to drop off or exchange heavier books.

When lifting a backpack, bend at the knees.

Back or neck issues could still arise, and parents should encourage children to alert them about any numbness, tingling or discomfort in the arms or legs, which may indicate a poor backpack fit or too much weight.

More information

The American Academy of Pediatrics has more on backpack safety.

SOURCE: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, news release, Aug. 19, 2019

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Health Tip: Treating Short-Term Back Pain

Health Tip: Treating Short-Term Back Pain

(HealthDay News) — Back pain is one of the most common medical issues in the United States, says the National Institutes of Health.

Short-term back pain lasts no longer than six weeks, and can be uncomfortable if untreated.

To treat short-term back pain, the NIH suggests:

  • Use hot or cold packs to soothe a sore, stiff back.
  • Try extension or aerobic exercises. But check with a doctor first.
  • Incorporate stretching into your daily routine.
  • Include calcium and vitamin D in your diet, to help keep your spine strong.
  • Take acetaminophen, aspirin or ibuprofen to ease pain.
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Building a Better Backpack

Building a Better Backpack

TUESDAY, Aug. 13, 2019 (HealthDay News) — A well-organized backpack helps ensure that your child has everything needed for school. Problems start when it becomes overloaded. Lugging around a heavy pack can lead to bad posture, back pain and worse.

The problem is so pervasive that the American Occupational Therapy Association created National School Backpack Awareness Day. It’s held every September to share ideas to keep kids safe.

You can protect your kids by making sure that their packs are properly fitted and properly loaded. Here’s how.

When shopping for a backpack, make sure that its width and length match each child’s torso. It shouldn’t hang more than 4 inches below the waist. The bottom of the pack should closely align with the curve of the child’s lower back — if it wobbles back and forth, spine problems can develop.

Other features to look for include wide, padded and adjustable shoulder straps. A waist, hip and/or chest belt will more evenly distribute the load. A backpack with many compartments allows for its content to be well spaced throughout. For traffic safety, the pack should have reflective accents that will help cars and other vehicles see your child in low light conditions.

Before loading the pack, have your child put it on and adjust the straps for a snug fit. Put the heaviest items at the back of the pack. Arrange the contents so items won’t slide around as your child moves.

When filled, a backpack shouldn’t weigh more than 5% to 10% of your child’s weight, so 8 pounds for a child who weighs 80 pounds. Don’t guesstimate — test it on your scale. If the pack is too heavy, take out a book or another item that your child can carry in his or her hands or stow in a locker.

Finally, make sure your child wears the pack on their back and not swung onto just one shoulder.

More information

Learn more about backpack awareness day and how to spread the word yourself.

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