Cordelia W. Carter, MD, pediatric orthopedic surgeon and director of the Pediatric Sports Medicine Center at Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital at NYU Langone, has noticed an uptick in children coming into her office with neck, shoulder, or lower back problems—also known as “text neck”—and it’s all related to posture and the angle their head and neck make when they look at their devices putting undue stress on the spine.
Although text neck is essentially an overuse injury, missing out on physical playtime is what Dr. Carter calls an underuse injury. “The entire spinal column is lined on either side with very strong erector muscles that support the core. If those muscles are not actively engaged while you’re sitting, then they just weaken over time,” Dr. Carter tells Good Housekeeping. “If you’re not supporting your spine, the forces are being distributed across abnormally, and it ends up causing pain.”
Dr. Carter suggests cutting down on screen time, but also teaching your kids (and yourself) a few ergonomic techniques: holding your phone up higher at eye level to put less strain on your neck, resting a tablet on a thigh or table to ease the weight on your hands and wrists, and shifting positions while you sit with your device.
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