Pokémon Go vs Your Neck and Back… Who wins?

Pokémon Go vs Your Neck and Back
Photo credit: Pixabay

Pokémon Go seems like the hottest topic at the moment apart from the British summer heat, politics and bad things happening in our world.  Over the past few days, I have sat next to and walked past a number of people who are playing it. Someone randomly asked me if I spotted the Pokémon 50 yards from us last week when I wasn’t even looking at my phone.  The game looks so addictive and I just know that I shouldn’t install it, let alone play it.

I remember talking to my physiotherapist a few years ago about the increasing number of people with their heads down so often looking at their phones and tablets.  We were both speculating whether people will have problems with their necks and backs and what long term damage this habit is doing to us.  The truth is that we won’t see immediate postural changes but overtime, people may experience discomfort or even pain if they are not careful.  I have heard of people with symptoms of RSI from using their phones and tablets so much, on top of using laptops and PC’s for work and it looks like the trend is set to increase.

I put my hand up and say that I do that a lot.  As I now run an online business and tracking social media alerts and emails all the time, I keep having to remind myself to put my phone up to my eye level but it isn’t a habit I have fully adopted yet.  I have noticed how it strains my neck and eyes and it doesn’t feel good.

As much fun as Pokémon Go looks, I think we should all pay more attention to our neck and back postures in our daily lives. The media has already reported on people who have injured themselves walking and driving whilst playing the game and that just sounds scary to me.  If you are lucky enough not to injure yourself with immediate pain, perhaps you are still not careful enough if all of us continue to habit of looking at our phones and tablets all the time, with our necks tilted down, regardless of whether your life has Pokémons in it or not.

Most of you reading this probably practise yoga or Pilates regularly, if not both. I am not a yoga teacher and I have no medical evidence in suggesting this.  Given that both my physiotherapist and chiropractor have said they can only do so much during sessions and it is really down to lifestyle habits to speed up and complete my recovery, I am questioning whether it is enough to compensate us spending so much time looking down at phones and tablets.

Does practising yoga and Pilates help? I am sure they do… but I am not convinced that practising even every day will compensate enough if we spend a lot of time with our heads tilted down, looking at our phones and tablets.  We should also be mindful of our hands, our fingers and our eyes.

How can we change to prevent ourselves from getting long term injuries from looking at our screens?  Here are some tips:

  • Look up and take a break regularly between using our screens.  Ideally do this every 20 minutes to half an hour.
  • Gently and slowly tilt your head from left to right, right to left.
  • Gently and slowly tilt your head back and forward.  If you aren’t able to do this comfortably, slowly move your head up and down as though you are nodding.
  • Focus your eyes and look from left to right, up and down and repeat a few times.
  • Roll your shoulders slowly up and down a few times, forward a few times and then backwards a few times.
  • Stretch your arms in front of you and stretch them up over your head.
  • If you can, have a digital detox every day for an hour or two.  I know this is a difficult one but everything comes with practice.

Let’s try and put our phones down, our tablets down, look up and look around from time to time.  Life is passing us by and most of it is beautiful. With summer, it looks and feels even more beautiful with the warmth of the sun on our skin.  I find that everything in moderation keeps my life a bit more balanced.

And there is me starting, writing and finishing this blog on three different tube journeys, trying to keep my phone at eye level… I am trying.

I would love to hear your comments on this.

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