Chiropractic Care in a Digital Age: Addressing Posture Issues from Screen Time

In today’s fast-paced digital world, our reliance on technology has dramatically increased. Tech shapes the way we work, communicate and entertain ourselves. With the popularity of computers, smartphones and tablets, it’s no surprise that screen time has become an integral part of daily life for many people.

However, this constant exposure to screens comes with its own set of challenges, particularly when it comes to posture and musculoskeletal health. In this blog, we’ll delve deeper into these issues and attempt to “straighten things out!”

The Screen Time Epidemic

Time for some scary stats! Research published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine shows that desk job workers spend 75% of their working hours sitting down, while UK Active Research reported that during lockdown, UK adults sat for at least 14 hours longer a week.

And when it comes to screen time, a survey by Vision Direct revealed that respondents spend 4,866 hours a year staring at screens – equating to a whopping 34 years of our lifetime! On average, people spend 3 hours and 15 minutes on their phones each day, checking their phones an average of 58 times each day.

The Impact on Posture

Prolonged sitting and screen time can lead to an increased risk of musculoskeletal disorders and postural abnormalities.

Slouching or hunching over puts strain on your neck, shoulders and back, while holding smartphones or tablets at unnatural angles can cause neck pain and stiffness. Here are a few of the common culprits: 

‘Tech Neck’ or ‘Text Neck’

  • Constantly looking down at screens can strain the muscles and ligaments in the neck. This can lead to pain, stiffness, and decreased range of motion.
  • In recent years, research suggests that ‘text neck syndrome’ could be viewed as a newly emerging condition in the 21st century. This is expected to be particularly prevalent amongst younger individuals.
  • The typical weight of an adult head ranges from 10 to 12 pounds. Tilting it forward at a 45-degree angle to gaze at a mobile phone increases the pressure on the neck by nearly 50 pounds, according to Kavita Trivedi from the University of Texas Southwestern.  

Lower Back Pain

  • Prolonged sitting, especially in a slouched or hunched position, can put pressure on the lumbar spine and surrounding muscles, leading to lower back pain.
  • The British Chiropractic Association reports that 33% of people in the UK took at least one day off work due to back or neck pain in 2018. In addition, disability due to back pain has risen by more than 50% since 1990.

Rounded Shoulders and Forward Head Posture

  • Habitual slouching or hunching over screens can cause shoulders to round forward and the head to protrude, resulting in muscle imbalances and structural misalignments.
  • Poor posture can also compress the chest and restrict breathing, exacerbating symptoms of stress and fatigue.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

  • Excessive typing and scrolling on keyboards and touchscreens can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome, a painful condition characterised by numbness, tingling and weakness in the hands and wrists.
  • Ergonomic interventions and wrist exercises can help alleviate symptoms and prevent further damage to the median nerve, responsible for providing motor functions to your forearm, wrist and hand.

Weakened Pelvic Floor 

  • Prolonged sitting can weaken the pelvic floor muscles, leading to issues such as urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse.
  • Reduced blood flow and pressure on the pelvic floor from prolonged sitting can contribute to pelvic floor dysfunction and discomfort.

The Ripple Effect of Screen Time

Eye Strain

Staring at screens for extended periods can lead to eye strain, with Specsavers listing symptoms including:  

  • Dry, burning, itchy, red, sore, tired or watery eyes
  • Blurred or double vision, difficulty focusing
  • Headaches
  • Light sensitivity
  • Twitching eyelids

In a survey by Vision Direct, 7 in 10 respondents said that after looking at screens for a long time, they experience headaches, blurred vision and other symptoms of digital eye strain. 2 in 5 of the participants said they rarely remember to rest their eyes every hour, with 20% never taking a break at all. 

Sleep Disruptions

Exposure to blue light from screens can disrupt the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle, leading to difficulties falling asleep and reduced sleep quality.

The National Sleep Foundation recommends limiting screen time before bedtime to improve sleep hygiene.

Mental Health Effects

Excessive screen time has been linked to mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, and stress.

The constant barrage of information and social media updates can contribute to feelings of overwhelm and burnout.

Strategies for Screen Time Management

Take Regular Breaks

  • Set a timer to remind yourself to take breaks every 30-60 minutes. During this time you can stretch, walk around and reset your posture.
  • Incorporate simple exercises, such as neck rolls, shoulder shrugs, and chest stretches to alleviate muscle tension and improve circulation.

Practice Good Ergonomics

  • Adjust the height of your computer monitor so it is at eye level. This allows you to maintain a neutral head position. Read our blog to find out more. 
  • Sit in a chair with proper lumbar support and keep your feet flat on the floor, ensuring your hips and knees are at a 90-degree angle.

Use Ergonomic Accessories

  • Invest in ergonomic accessories such as adjustable standing desks, ergonomic keyboards, and supportive office chairs to create a more ergonomic workstation.
  • Ergonomic accessories help promote neutral posture and reduce strain on the muscles and joints, improving overall comfort and productivity.

The Role of Chiropractic Care

Comprehensive Assessment

  • Our chiropractors conduct thorough assessments to identify underlying musculoskeletal imbalances and postural abnormalities.
  • Chiropractors can use state-of-the-art diagnostic tools and imaging techniques to pinpoint areas of dysfunction and develop personalised treatment plans tailored to your needs.

Spinal Adjustments

  • Manual spinal adjustments are performed to realign the vertebrae, alleviate nerve compression, and restore proper joint function.
  • Chiropractic adjustments help relieve pain, improve mobility, and enhance overall spinal health, promoting optimal posture and alignment.

Targeted Therapies

  • In addition to spinal adjustments, chiropractors may recommend complementary therapies such as soft tissue massage, electrical stimulation, and therapeutic exercises.
  • These modalities help reduce inflammation, improve muscle strength and flexibility, and prevent future injuries related to screen time.

Education and Prevention

  • Chiropractors provide education on proper ergonomics, posture awareness, and lifestyle modifications to prevent future screen time-related issues.
  • We empower our patients to take an active role in their health and well-being. We equip them with the knowledge and tools to maintain optimal posture and musculoskeletal health in the digital age.

Final thoughts 

In conclusion, the prevalence of screen time in the digital age poses significant challenges to posture, musculoskeletal health, and overall well-being. However, by implementing proactive strategies such as taking regular breaks, practising good ergonomics, and seeking chiropractic care, negative effects can be reduced, leading to a healthier relationship with technology.

We shouldn’t let digital distractions dictate our well-being. Instead, we can regain control of our posture and adopt a healthier, happier lifestyle in the digital era.

Contact us

At our clinics in Yeovil, Crewkerne, and Beaminster, we offer a variety of services tailored to diverse requirements. These include chiropractic care, aromatherapy, remedial and sports massages. 

Our primary objective is to enhance your quality of life by promoting good health and well-being. If you need guidance on enhancing your posture or wish to learn more about our services, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

Contact us today to discover how we can assist you further.

News & Research

Related stories