Posture, Breathing and Smartphones

Many of us are aware that our posture plays an important role in our health.  There are many studies now that highlight the importance of maintaining a mechanical advantageous posture at rest as well as in activity.  An aspect of posture that is often overlooked is variability, or the time spent in any singular static posture.  In this I mean that although there is good evidence to suggest that there is an optimal posture from a mechanical loading sense, there is also good evidence to support the need for regular movement or changes to that posture throughout the day and with differing activities. 


This variability can help to minimize the effect of fatigue to our stabilizing muscles and avoid irritation to our joints.  Our joints and muscles are designed to move and create stability in different postures during different functions.  Maintaining only one position for too long can create fatigue of the stabilizing structures and promote musculoskeletal issues such as back and neck pain, headaches, shoulder problems and TMJ disorders to name a few. 


Interestingly the increasing use of smartphones in our society seems to have increased some of these postural disorders that cause musculoskeletal issues.  This increased use or time spent with these devices puts our spines into a kyphotic posture.  This kyphotic posture causes a mechanical disadvantage to the spine as well as a negative impact on our ability to breathe.  Studies have shown a decrease in respiratory muscle activity with increasingly kyphotic postures.   Obviously this increase in ‘poor posture’ isn’t only seen with smartphone use and can be attributed to a number of our daily modern activities as well as our tendency to reduce our daily physical activity in general.


So how do we combat this problem? 

1. Try to maintain a mechanically advantageous posture,

2. Increase your daily physical activity and

3. Seek help with a professional to gain advice on how to best improve your posture and to receive appropriate treatment of your postural issues before they become a chronic problem.


Good Posture:

-       chin parallel to the floor

-       shoulders level

-       neutral spine

-       keep your elbows at rest to your side

-       brace your core by gently contracting your abdominal muscles

-       keep your hips level

-       have you knees level and pointing straight ahead

-       distribute your weight evenly to each foot

-       also remember to add variability to your repetitive tasks by having micro-breaks or simple changes in postures throughout the day