Selfies leading to rise in back and neck problems among young people

Friday 2nd March 2018
Physios are reportedly seeing an increasing number of patients with neck and back problems arising from overuse of their smartphones. Image: jakubzak via iStock
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Physiotherapists are coming across a growing number of patients who are suffering from neck and back problems due to overuse of their smartphones, it has emerged.

Sammy Margo, a London-based physiotherapist, has revealed that straining into positions in order to get a desired selfie angle and looking down at phones to repetitively swipe with the hands and fingers in an awkward position is leaving millennials in particular at risk of aches and pains requiring physio.

She explained: "We are seeing more and more young people with tension in the neck, shoulders and back, much of it directly related to sedentary lifestyles in part due to intensive smartphone use - from holding devices up to take selfies several times a day to incessant typing, scrolling and swiping a screen all day, whether it be for work or leisure."

The aches and pains stemming from these repetitive actions have playfully been dubbed 'Tinder-nitis' and 'selfie spasms' by some, but there is in fact a serious risk to health over the long term unless people take regular breaks from their smartphones and make an effort to work more of the muscles in their bodies equally.

Ms Margo warned that these ailments are only likely to increase, especially as figures from the Ofcom 2017 Communications Markets report showed that two-thirds of 16 to 34-year-olds and almost half (44 per cent) of 34 to 54-year-olds class their smartphone as their most important device.

What's more, statistics show that the average person in the UK checks their phone over 2,617 times every day, meaning they are doing this significantly more times than most other activities, overworking their muscles as a result.

Unsuitable workstations stemming from the rise in flexible working may also be to blame. Data shows that 54 per cent of people in Britain now regularly work remotely from their own homes, meaning they are less likely to be using chairs and desks with appropriate back and neck support than if they were based in an office where their employer was in charge of ensuring this.

Written by Mathew Horton

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