In all probability, you’re reading this hunched over your laptop or your iPhone. What I want you to do is to bear with me and sit up straight for the remainder of this article. Modern technology is not just ruining your posture- it’s ruining your lives.
If you’re in a public place right now, just take a quick gander at your surroundings. How many people are on their smartphones? Now look closely and you are most certainly going to find them craning their necks to look at their gadgets. Using your phones in this manner may seem pretty casual at the moment, but they take a heavy toll on your spine.
The average human head weighs in somewhere between 10 and 12 pounds. Sit straight and this is the pressure acting on your neck. But when you bend your neck 60 degrees forward (Which is generally what happens when you’re looking down at your phone), the effective stress on your neck will increase sixfold. This is increasingly becoming known as “text neck”.
Due to the rise in cellphone use and the widespread integration of technology in our daily lives, the forward curve or “dowager” humps that were previously only seen in grandmothers and great-grandmothers, have become apparent in the teenagers of today.
WHY IT MATTERS
The reach of your posture is not limited just to your physical appearance: It affects your mind too.
Studies and tests have been carried out that show a direct link between your posture and your mood. We slouch when we’re sad and we slouch when we’re scared. We slouch when we’ve given up. Research has shown that slouching or the “text neck” posture shares an eerie resemblance with the posture that clinically depressed people tend to adopt. A 2010 study showed that individuals with major depressive disorders exhibit changes in body posture. They found that the individuals usually stood with their necks drooping forward with collapsed shoulders in what seemed like a submissive stance.
My use of the word ‘submissive’ is nowhere near coincidental. Modern technology has enslaved us and is not only controlling how we sit but what goes on inside our minds as well. And it appears that the size of the device directly correlates to the effect it has on your behaviour.
In this particular experiment, participants were randomly given one out of four electronic devices of varying size, to interact with. After the experiment was over, it was evident that the participants who were on smaller devices (iPods) behaved less assertively than the people who were using MacBooks, often waiting longer to interrupt the experimenter who had made them wait, sometimes not interrupting the experimenter at all.
Now you know that posture reflects the emotional state, the confidence and the self-esteem of a person. But it doesn’t just stop there; posture can also cause changes in your emotional state.
In another study, non-depressed individuals were asked to sit in either an upright or slouched posture while they took part in a mock job interview, some established stress inducers and some other questionnaires. The study concluded that when compared to the people who were sitting upright, the slouchers exhibited much greater fear and a low self-esteem and confidence. Their posture went as far as to affect the very content of their answers. Linguistic analyses showed that the slouchers were more negative and critical of themselves in their answers than the non-slouchers.
Your posture impacts your memory too.
Another study had participants who were assigned to sit in a slouched position or sit erect. The participants were then given a list of words that were either positive or negative. They were later asked to recall these words. The study showed that the slouchers seemed to recall the negatives a lot more than the positives while the participants sitting upright showed no such biases.
Sitting in an upright posture also leads to increased productivity and better concentration. You may not realise it but your posture has a huge subconscious impact on your behaviour and your personality.
HOW TO FIX IT ‘TEXT NECK’ AND ‘FORWARD HEAD POSTURE’
Because we are always looking down, typing, reading, texting or hunched over a screen you can begin to develop what’s known as ‘forward head posture.’ The video below will give you some pointers on how to recognise if you have it, then how to fix it.
HOW TO PREVENT TECHNOLOGY RUINING YOUR POSTURE
For every 2 cm you tilt your head forward, your neck experiences about 11 pounds of extra pressure. When you juxtapose this fact alongside the alarming increase in the use of laptops and phones in the past few years, it really isn’t that surprising to hear about all the health problems caused by these gadgets. To think that working on your laptops or smartphones isn’t making you productive and efficient, but rather, causing the exact opposite effect. You may not notice these changes immediately but incorrect posture is certain to take its toll in the coming years.
But you see, the thing with your posture affecting your psyche is that it can go both ways. Correcting your posture is the first step to leading a healthier life.
Stand-up desk– One of the cons of a desk job is that you’re left sitting in a chair the whole day with little to none exercise. You can avoid this by using a stand up desk. This pretty much ensures a better posture and a healthier lifestyle.
Breaks– Continuous and prolonged use of technology can have a draining effect on your eyes and affects your back as well. Be sure to get up and walk around every half hour or so, just to break this monotonous cycle of being glued to the screen
Desk Setup– If your working station set up itself is flawed, then you can’t expect your posture to be maintained. Before plopping yourself on that chair and opening your laptop, make sure that your desk and chair are set up at the optimum height for good posture.
Stop Using Technology- This may be a hard one for many people, but it is possible to still live and not use your iPhones and computer. It may not be feasible to stop using technology altogether but you can use it less. This will dramatically save you developing posture problems in the future.
Technology may be a big part of our lives, but you shouldn’t allow it to hold so much sway over you. Hopefully, after reading this article, you’ll never look at your phone the same way again; both literally and figuratively. There are many benefits of good posture make sure you don’t ignore them.