Kyle B. Jones, DC
It is no secret that Covid-19 has accelerated societal use of electronics and technology among the young and old. However, the young spine could be receiving the lion’s share of the damage.
As the musculoskeletal system matures, it is reliant upon bipedal locomotion (walking/running) to properly develop and strengthen. The current academic requirements have shifted the balance to a sedentary lifestyle for most of our children and teens. Sitting for hours on end during virtual school and staring at a computer followed by leisure time of gaming, online videos, etc. creates an arena for abnormal stress on the system it was not designed to endure. As a chiropractic physician, my clinical practice is shifting to accommodate headaches, neck pain and back pain in kids as young as 6 years old. This is a drastic shift from my first 12 years in private practice and I attribute it to a sudden onset of 6-8 hours/day of additional technology usage.
The future appears to embrace the technological shift, which will also require a conscious effort by us to preserve the health of the human body. The following modifications have been proven to reduce the negative effects of our rapidly expanding tech-reliant lifestyle:
Dynamic Work Station – Develop multiple places throughout the house for your child to complete their work. Encourage them to rotate between their desk, a counter top or the floor. Consider stacking books under the laptop to bring it to eye level when at the desk. Set reminders/alarms on their devices or smart watches to change positions.
Postural Education – Children are aware of the damage smoking has on the body from a very young age because society has effectively educated them of the harmful effects. We should also educate them on the importance of a strong and healthy spine. Did you know back pain is the second leading cause of doctors visits in the US? Did you know poor posture is linked to anxiety, depression, and reflux, to name a few? Remind your child to sit up straight and activate back muscles to support the spine in hopefully preventing future disability.
Time Limits – Create healthy time boundaries for the use of electronics. Keep in mind that every hour of sitting is not equal. The 5th hour is significantly more detrimental than the 1st hour. Irritation and postural deformation accumulates and becomes exponential by the day’s end.
Consider Alternatives – Simply having constant access to technology doesn’t warrant its sole use. Identify ways to continue to educate without staring at a screen. Sometimes a pencil and paper will do the trick!
Technology has drastically changed our world but not without detriment. The first steps to making positive change is through awareness. We wouldn’t operate a motor vehicle without a seat belt, therefore we should avoid utilizing technology without postural consciousness!
Kyle B. Jones, DC is the founder and clinical director of Carolinas Chiropractic and Spinal Rehab in Waxhaw. He holds an advanced certification in postural exercise and has a passion for diagnosing and conservatively treating spinal disc injuries.