As a Kingsland physio in Auckland, we treat a lot of professionals who suffer from constant headaches, or chronic neck or back pain. A lot of these conditions are caused by poor posture while they go about their daily business. In many cases, this can be summed up in one word: iHunch.
iHunch is very real. It describes a common spinal problem at the level of the cervicothoracic junction (CT junction), which is at the very bottom of the neck. This condition causes neck pain and cervicogenic headaches, and we associate it with poor posture e.g. a forward head posture, a poking chin posture, and hunching over.
iHunch is a most appropriate term because postural pain has been on the rise since smartphones, tablets and laptops have become commonplace. These devices don’t exactly lend themselves to correct posture. For example, a laptop’s screen is not much higher than the keyboard, so we hunch over to both type and read. (On the other hand, the screen of a desktop computer is separate to the keyboard and can be placed at eye level which reduces hunching to a great degree.)
And then, there’s the smartphone. Observe someone walking down the street with their head bowed as they gaze intently into their phone. The angle of their neck and head as they do so isn’t doing them any favours at all. You probably do exactly the same thing! When your head bends forward at 60 degrees, the load on your neck increases by up to five times. By doing this for long periods of time, our muscles strain and weaken, plus spinal joints compress with nerves in the neck at the risk of becoming compromised.
We are treating more people with painful problems around the CT junction. While there are very effective treatments for back, neck and head pain, there are still things you can do yourself to reduce the occurrences of iHunch.
Take a short break from your device at frequent intervals and do a few gentle stretches. Every device has an alarm, so set it to remind you to take a break! If you can, use a desktop computer instead of a laptop; if you do have to use the latter, place the laptop on a stand (or even a pile of books) to bring it up to your eye line. The same principle applies to your phone; lift it toward eye level so you’re not straining your neck by placing it at an awkward downward angle.
We’re posture professionals, and just as skilled at treating back, neck and head pain. Contact us and we’ll help you avoid the painful truth of iHunch.