Our screen time usage seems to increase every year—in fact, since the pandemic we’re nothing short of “reliant” on screens. We often own multiple computers and it bewilders us when a TV is absent in a house or if someone doesn’t own a smartphone. In short, screens are everywhere and we’re constantly looking at them.
So how does this affect our posture and general physiology? We already know rounded shoulders and forward head posture is common for people using devices. What happens to our bodies in this posture and how do we manage these changes? We can’t always: “take a break, stand up from our desk, and go outside.” These are less viable solutions as we’re more dependent on our phones for everyday life and work. Since this is unlikely to diminish, we should work with this evolution, not against it.
Many articles will advise ergonomic computer setups, and though we aren’t perfect, we are best at adjusting our monitor, chair, and desk. But, how do we adjust our posture while using a phone, tablet, or TV? Your phone is difficult to adjust—it’s made to use while standing, sitting, or walking, so it doesn’t have a mouse and keyboard. If you add any other gadgets or tools it limits the portability. Still, you should invest in a holder or stand for your phone when keeping it stationary for a prolonged period. If you can’t prop it up, here are some posture tips:
- Raise your phone to eye level. This reduces the strain on upper neck muscles and diminishes compression on the neck vertebrae.
- Alternate your hands while holding the phone—overuse of one arm can lead to tendonitis and other injuries.
- Use headphones to reduce the awkward, rounded shoulder and forward head posture that we all go into talking on the phone.
Treat tablets like larger phones. Follow the tips for phones even more, and apply these tablet-specific ones as well:
- Invest in an external keyboard if you type on your tablet. Tablets aren’t set up for you to type and look at the screen comfortably, so it’ll force you to over-round your shoulders and to tilt your head down.
- Change the placement of the tablet when watching videos. Consistently placing the tablet to your right side and spending hours with a slight rotation will cause an imbalance in joint position and muscle length, impairing your posture over time.
TVs are the final culprit for prolonged sitting and screen time. It’s difficult to change the position of the TV itself, as it is a large device. So, you’ll need to adjust your posture and positioning. These aren’t always the most comfortable postures, but they’re tremendously beneficial for you in the long run.
- Sit all the way back with your entire back flat against the back of the couch. When you lean back with your bottom slightly forward, you create a small gap between your low back and the couch, which strains your low back muscles.
- Set up a standing viewing station, like standing at a tall table. Don’t watch TV here all the time, just try to break up your sitting to crucially help your posture.
- Consider finding ways to move and watch TV. Get up and do a chore during commercial breaks. Make a game out of standing up every time a character says a specific phrase!
Prolonged sitting has an immediate effect on our body—plus, we’re forcing ourselves into limited mobility, flexibility, and health while using devices. Apply some of these tips, alter your postures, and stay healthier longer.