Did you ever feel that you couldn’t move your thumb properly? Or did you experience pain in your wrists? Or had that chronic stiff neck feeling? These “iPosture” conditions can be caused by bad body positions induced by the (over)use of smartphones. Aside from them, your home, workplace, or even classrooms can also cause poor postures which, once they have become normal or unnoticed, might lead to injuries.
It’s easy to have bad posture but difficult to maintain a correct one. Dr. Shen Xianglong, an acupuncturist and TCM orthopedics specialist at Hong Kong International Medical Clinic, Beijing, explains that the imbalance of our body’s physical system will lead to various physical ailments. Dr. Shen gives us more insight into proper posture and home and classroom ergonomics.
Nowadays, people use smartphones and other gadgets almost every time and everywhere. How does the prolonged use of gadgets in awkward body positions affect body posture and growth (in children)?
As the use of electronic products has become a part of daily life nowadays, many people have become “prisoners” of these products, forcing their bodies into wrong postures. These lead to many health issues, like neck and shoulder pain (or “Text Neck“), and worse, thumb joint dislocation, tenosynovitis, and spinal deformity, among others. Meanwhile, lying on the bed for a long time while using a phone can lead to cervical-thoracic vertebral displacement, arm numbness, and wrist pain (or the “Cellphone Elbow” and the “Text Claw”) due to compression on the lower segment of the cervical nerve. Scientific research shows that over 100 spinal diseases are closely related to prolonged wrong body postures.
Prolonged wrong body posture will have serious impacts on children’s physical development. For example, the S-shaped deformation of the spinal column (or scoliosis) may limit the growth of internal organs and cause abnormal body curves, shortage in height, or endocrine dyscrasia, or can induce nearsightedness and problems in the nerve balance system.
At home, what can parents do to keep good sitting posture for kids?
Setting children’s tables and chairs too high or too low is not conducive to their visual health and physical development. Therefore, parents need to adjust tables/seats according to the children’s height. Here’s the standard: feet should be flat on the floor, and thighs should be parallel to the floor and should not touch the table. Both lower arms should rest naturally on the table surface. Ensure that the child seats upright with chest straight. This can help the child breathe well and have better blood circulation
People who work at home might not use a table or a proper work area and that can affect their posture. So what are your reminders for them?
Freelancers working at home should pay more attention to the bilateral balance of the body. They should avoid crossing legs or sitting crooked (or slouching.) To relieve muscle fatigue, I highly recommend them to leave the table for a walk and do stretching exercises every hour. Meanwhile, they can strengthen the dorsal muscles to maintain the balance of the vertebral column.
What are the quick remedies and exercises to do when parents and children experience chronic pain (say because of wrong positions while using phones/gadgets)?
If there is chronic pain, the most important thing that needs to be done first is analyzing its cause. If the symptom lasts for a while or remains despite exercising or resting, you’d better call your doctor for corrective treatment. Even when symptoms become less severe after treatment, it’s important to get rid of bad habits and train the muscles regularly by stretching to prevent recurrence.
At classrooms, how can schools make sure that seats, tables, and lockers are in optimum positions so that schoolchildren won’t get strained?
It is recommended that school leaders use tailor-made tables and lockers appropriate to the age and height of their students to ensure that they conduct their studies in right body postures and to avoid spinal problems.
About the doctor
Dr. Shen Xianglong 沈祥龙 医生 is an acupuncturist and a TCM orthopedics specialist at Hong Kong International Medical Clinic, Beijing. For over 10 years, he has done fellowships with many famous TCM physicians in China. He specializes in treating body issues like vertebra disorder, disc herniation, and sciatica. He also practices acupuncture, bone setting, and massage. Besides, he is also skilled in chronic conditions and gynecologic concerns management with herbal medicine, massage, and foot reflexology therapy, and for instance, hypertension, diabetes. Dr. Shen graduated from Beijing University of Chinese Medicine.