Is your Instagram addiction affecting your performance in the gym?
Chances are, you’re reading this on a mobile device. You’ve been staring at your screen with your neck tilted forward and your arms in what can only be described as ‘the T-Rex’. Chances are, it’s not news to you that spending long amounts of time on your phone or laptop isn’t great for your posture. And it’s almost certain that quite frankly, you gave up trying to spend less time on your phone or computer a long time ago.
Forward neck, rounded shoulders and a hunched upper back are all the result of prolonged periods of device use. Even more worryingly, as of recently these well-known signifiers of living your life online are turning into severe real-life conditions. Studies have reported a rise in cervical and lumbar spine injuries and even thumb ligament issues due to overuse of devices! If forgetting to look up from our screens are having this effect on our posture in general, how does this translate to our performance in the gym?
Getting fitter, lifting heavier and progressing with health in general has plenty of it’s own challenges. Now add in tight hip flexors. Shortening of the hip flexors due to prolonged sitting affects your range in squatting movements, not to mention making it harder to fire up your glutes and leads to weakness in the lower back. And if you were wondering why just holding the barbell for a front OR back squat is more painful for you that doing an actual squat, chances are your upper back muscles are too tight to create good rack positions, and your shoulders are rounded making it almost impossible to keep your elbows up. Not only does this hinder our progress, it also means longer recovery times, as the muscles that are already tight and overworked from sitting in a squat position all day and frozen in the ‘push position’ (from holding a tablet or phone) are put through more of the same (but with weight!) during a workout.
So what can we do to negate the effects of Text Neck and T-Rex arms? Firstly, limit the amount of time in one sitting that you spend using your device. Keep drinks or snacks in a separate location so you have more reasons to stand up. Secondly, STRETCH. If you know for a fact that you are tight in certain areas and are someone who trains, 2 minutes before and after a session is not enough. Invest in a proper warm up routine and flexibility techniques. Lastly and most importantly, look up! When was the last time you looked around you while walking down the street as opposed to at your phone? Try it, you might find a few new cafes to Instagram your meals in. And while you’re at it, stand a little taller, you look good when you’re not looking down.
How Poor Posture Affects Your Health and Athletic Performance | BoxLife Magazine. (2018). Boxlifemagazine.com. Retrieved 1 May 2018, from http://boxlifemagazine.com/5193-2/
Hughes, A., & Labs, S. (2018). Can too much screen time affect your kid’s posture?. Screen Time. Retrieved 30 April 2018, from https://screentimelabs.com/is-excess-mobile-device-use-harming-your-childs-posture/
Joshua M. Ammerman, M. (2018). Is Your Cell Phone Killing Your Back?. SpineUniverse. Retrieved 30 April 2018, from https://www.spineuniverse.com/wellness/ergonomics/your-cell-phone-killing-your-back
Jung, S. I., Lee, N. K., Kang, K. W., Kim, K., & Lee, D. Y. (2016). The effect of smartphone usage time on posture and respiratory function. Journal of Physical Therapy Science, 28(1), 186–189. http://doi.org/10.1589/jpts.28.186