Wednesday, December 2, 2015   

Not-so-smart phone postures could kill: study

Kelly Ip

Thursday, April 03, 2014


Hours of crouching over your mobile phone sending text messages can kill - that's the warning from British chiropractors.

Hong Kong chiropractors were a little skeptical of the shorter life expectancy but agreed that prolonged poor posture is bad for health.

The UK-based United Chiropractic Association said the hunching posture can cause breathing problems, leading to cardiovascular issues later in life and a higher risk of death.

Its study also suggests a possible link between forward leaning postures that people use while texting, going online, sending e-mails and playing video games with hyperkyphosis, pulmonary disease and cardiovascular problems.

It explains that when people drop their heads and round their shoulders while looking at a phone or a tablet, it is harder for them to take a full breath because of the restriction to their muscles. In addition, the ribs cannot move properly so the heart and lungs cannot function to their full effectiveness.

The UCA said that it is only in later years that the effects can seriously affect the quality of life.

This has increased fears that younger people, who are society's biggest users of smartphones and tablets, could be knocking years off their life expectancy.

Experts in Hong Kong have reservations about the loss of life expectancy but agree that there will be negative affects on one's health.

William Ngai Yiu-hing, specialist in orthopedics and traumatology, said hunching postures over a long period of time may indirectly shorten life expectancy.

"Prolonged pain in the neck and body could cause depression which, in turn, could be a vicious circle," he said. "Such people would be less interested in other things, including doing physical exercise. More diseases can then emerge due to a lack of exercise, such as high blood pressure."

Ngai also estimated that the number of patients seeking treatment for pain has risen by 50 percent since the 1980s.

"I believe this is due to the rapid development in technology, and it has become more popular to use smartphones on the go," he said.

He advised smartphone and tablet users to do stretching exercises every hour and to use their devices for only up to two hours a day.

Chiropractor Alex Tsang Sai-chong said it is difficult to draw a strong conclusion that hunching postures will increase the mortality rate in the elderly.

"What is clear though is that our modern lifestyle has caused an increased tendency for forward slumped postures," he said. "This can be, and has been, attributed to prolonged sitting at a computer or using a handheld device."

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