New data, released by the Chiropractors’ Association of Australia to mark the start of National Chiropractic Care Week (May 23 to 29), shows that Australians’ postures are ageing at an increased rate due to heavy mobile device usage.
Our love affair with portable electronic devices is causing growing health problems according to new research1 from the Chiropractors’ Association of Australia (CAA), with chiropractors reporting an increasing trend amongst younger people with posture probl
ems that were traditionally the domain of the middle-aged office worker.
“When it comes to spinal health, our younger people are getting older much earlier,” said CAA National President.
Confirming a societal trend towards greater frequency and increased usage of gadgets, the research highlighted that nearly 50 per cent of Australians are using their laptop more than they were five years ago, while one third has increased their use of PC/desktops and texting on mobile phones.
The increase in usage is most marked amongst younger Australians (aged 18 – 39), with 54 per cent using a laptop more, 40 per cent texting more, 37 per cent talking on mobile phones more and 29 per cent using mobile/electronic games more than they did five years ago.
According to the CAA, chiropractors have seen an interrelated trend in the rise of mobile/electronic device use and posture problems during the past five years.
The research also shows people are not taking regular breaks when using electronic devices – spending up to two hours at a time using hand held electronic devices and more than three hours at their computer in one sitting.
And, while we are more mobile and connected through technology, Australians are less mobile (literally) with activity levels amongst Gen Ys and Zs having decreased compared with the activity levels of their Gen X parents at the same age.
Common postural problems chiropractors are reporting include an increase in forward head posture, round shoulders and forward pelvis in young Australians (under 29 years) symptomatic of today’s gadget culture, while slouching is highest in older people (50+ years).
“The majority of technology users assume poor posture while using electronic devices.” “According to the research, 80 per cent of users acknowledge the need to improve their posture while using computers but not other devices. In fact, only 49 per cent of respondents consider their posture while texting.”
Chiropractors are particularly concerned about the impact of modern technology on tomorrow’s adults. “We are already seeing a jump in problems triggered by handheld computer games and excessive mobile phone texting amongst children and teens.
“This group is most likely to spend their leisure time using electronic devices for long periods of time without taking a break and they are also 4.5 times more likely to have a daily TV habit, rather than a daily physical activity habit.
To help counteract our addiction of modern technology, the CAA is recommending good, old fashioned walking with the launch of its Just Start Walking initiative featuring a free downloadable mobile phone app and website:
“Technology is here to stay, so we are taking the message about being mobile and active to people’s computers and mobile phones and encouraging people to improve their posture by taking a break and going for a walk.”
1 Note: The CAA commissioned independent research in early 2011 to identify key findings around mobility and posture in relation to the increased use of laptops and mobile devices and the impact on the health of the public. The research was conducted by Square Holes market research agency.