Preferred PT: Say Goodbye To Neck Pain

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YOUR IPHONE IS RUINING YOUR POSTURE —& YOURMOOD

THERE are plenty of reasons to put our cellphones down now and then, not least the fact that incessantly checkingthemtakesusoutofthepresentmomentand disrupts family dinners around the globe. But here’s one you might not have considered: Smartphones are ruining our posture. The average head weighs about 10 to 12 pounds. When we bend our necks forward 60 degrees, as we do to use our phones, the effective stress on our neck increases to 60 pounds — the weight of about five gallons of paint. When we’re sad, we slouch. We also slouch when we feel scared or powerless. Studies have shown that people with clinical depression adopt a posture that eerily resembles the iHunch. One, published in 2010 in the official journal of the Brazilian Psychiatric Association, found that depressed patients were more likely to stand with their necks bent forward, shoulders collapsed and arms drawn in toward the body. Posture doesn’t just reflect our emotional states; it can also cause them. How else might iHunching influence our feelings and behaviors? My colleague Maarten W. Bos and I randomly assigned participants to interact for five minutes

with one of four electronic devices that varied in size: a smartphone, a tablet, a laptop and a desktop computer. We then looked at how long subjects would wait to ask the experimenter whether they could leave, after the study had clearly concluded. We found that the size of the device significantly affected whether subjects felt comfortable seeking out the experimenter, suggesting that the slouchy, collapsed position we take when using our phones actually makes us less assertive. In fact, there appears to be a linear relationship between the size of your device and the extent to which it affects you: the smaller the device, the more you must contract your body to use it, and the more shrunken and inward your posture, the more submissive you are likely to become. Keep your head up and shoulders back when looking at your phone, even if that means holding it at eye level. You can also try stretching and massaging the two muscle groups that are involved in the iHunch — those between the shoulder blades and the ones along the sides of the neck. This helps reduce scarring and restores elasticity. Amy Cuddy is a professor at Harvard Business School and the author of the forthcoming book “Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges.”

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