Look around and you’ll see people staring intently at smartphones in most places, by all ages (you may need to take a moment to look away from your own phone to observe this). People appear to be bending and pulling down towards the small black holes we call our “phones,” which are more frequently utilised as multimedia entertainment devices, in addition to having their eyes locked on the screen.

Gravity plus mindlessness are mostly responsible for our device-shaped behaviour. Our modern devices are filled with an inexhaustible supply of engaging content, and when we use them for internet browsing, which we do frequently, we use more than just our eyes to log on.

Although forwards head and tech neck are the main topics of discussion when it comes to phone posture, using a phone has an impact on every part of your body, from your eyes to your feet.

Your Head and Neck Are Moving Due to Your Phone

Do you recall the days, fifteen years ago, when you had to tilt your head to one side and hold the phone between your shoulder and ear in order to converse on the phone “hands-free”? I’ve always found phones to be a hassle.

Although the movements of modern smartphones are different, the head and neck are nevertheless frequently moved in strange positions for extended periods of time. Thankfully, our devices don’t require us to adopt a particular “device-shape” in order for them to function; we simply aren’t considering how to best position ourselves for sustainability. Yes, even when using the smartphone, we have options when it comes to our stance.

Head escalation

After you log on, use your upper back muscles to hold your head and spine high, and make sure your swipe is strong enough to prevent your head from drooping forwards.

Lift and move your head back towards the wall behind you and up to the ceiling above at the same time, keeping your eyes on the horizon and not raising your chin or chest. This simple adjustment instantly lengthens the tiny muscles in your head, neck, and upper back, decompresses your neck’s vertebrae, and increases your height. It’s not necessary to arch your back to glance down at your phone; you may just look down with your eyes.Katy in side-by-side pictures. She is positioned on the left, her head and shoulders rounded as she stares at her phone. She is demonstrating good head and neck posture on the right.

Changing your surroundings to make moving well more reflexive is something else I really like. A permanent reminder to change your position can be placed by placing a “WHERE’S YOUR HEAD AT?” post-it note in the corner of your computer screen or applying a head ramp decal to your phones or tablets.

Your Phone Is Shifting How You Look

Your ciliary muscles are a ring of muscles found in each of your eyeballs. This muscular ring shortens and constricts when you concentrate on something near your face, such as a book or smartphone. To give these muscles the opportunity to stretch and relax their rings, you must fix your attention on something far away—at least a quarter mile.

Like the muscles in our hips and shoulders, we may maintain the health of our eye muscles by moving them through their whole range of motion several times a day. Rather, our extensive use of screens and indoor environments causes us to utilise our eye muscles, along with those of the hips and shoulders, within a limited and repeated range of motion.

Turn your face away from the display.

You are already familiar with the head ramp exercise. It turns out that it’s a terrific technique to adjust the distance between your eyes and their point of concentration in addition to being beneficial for the curvature of your middle and upper spine.

Use your device to set a timer that will remind you to frequently look away from the screen and into the real world that is right next to it. If you’re inside, move to a window and spend a minute or two staring out the window at anything far away. Take a step back from your electronics, either partially or completely. Instead of watching one of the many animal films on YouTube, spend some time observing the real birds, insects, and surrounding natural environment wherever you happen to live.

Seek out additional offline resources or methods of communication. If you’re not quite ready to give up your smartphone, try using your phone to listen rather than just stare. We are not required to video conference just because we have the option. Voice-only conversations free up our bodies and sight to perform other tasks.

You’re Breathing Through Your Phone

More specifically, sitting for extended periods of time with your upper back rounded forwards while using a phone can hinder proper lung function.1. The way we use our phones is more to blame than the phones themselves. The combination of extreme kyphosis (the forwards curvature of the upper spine) and extreme stillness, which already keeps the lungs somewhat sedentary, alters how the lungs function. It can be beneficial to sit up straighter (see “Head ramping”), substitute movement time for scrolling time, and engage in exercises that reduce excessive upper back curvature and shoulder tightness.

Begin with this action:

Extend your upper back and shoulders.

Put your hands at counter height on a wall, desk, or counter. Then, extend that phone slump by bringing your hips away from your hands by walking your feet back and lowering your chest towards the floor.

You’re Handling Your Phone

If you find yourself using your phone more than ever, put your hand up. Is the hand you raised holding a phone? Then you should try these stretches.

These three techniques will help your hands move more and in a different way from the death-grip and index-finger swipe that your upper body has been used to when using a phone. Bonus: completing them requires putting down your phone. See Rethink Your Position (Propriometrics Press, May 2023) for further stretches similar to this one.

Extend your thumbs.

These fingers are essential for using smartphones, whether you use them to grip your phone or to text quickly with two contracted thumbs. Try this stretch to stop them from clawing indefinitely: Your right hand should form a relaxed fist with the thumb pointing upward. Using your left hand, grasp the thumb as low as possible and operate it like a vintage Atari joystick, moving it slowly in your direction and at different angles (you don’t have to make any “PEW PEW” noises).

Extend your wrists.

Touch the backs of both hands, including the thumbs, while maintaining a calm and erect posture. Then, lower them to your waist. Hold them there or slowly move them in front of your torso from right to left or up and down. Make sure your thumbs are in contact!

A monochromatic image of Katy’s upper body. She is in the posture of prayer, with her hands raised in front of her and her backs pressed together.

Exert your nervousness

Yes, nerves also require mobility throughout their respective ranges of motion! Making a T with your arms and a “STOP” motion with your hands, extend your hands sideways from your shoulders. Work your fingertips slowly in the direction of your head while spreading them apart. Maintain a straight thumb and index finger, as well as a modest bend in your elbows towards the floor. As you move your fingers back towards your body’s midline, visualise reaching the upper arm bones away from you.

A black and white picture of Katy with her fingers pointing up at the ceiling, her wrists flexed, and her arms extended to the side.

Your Walk Is Being Interrupted by Your Phone

Why have so many eschewed basic footwear in favour of shoes with narrow toe boxes and firm soles? because wearing traditional shoes impairs some foot movements. Even gait parameters like stride length, walking speed, and muscle usage can be affected by certain attributes. Guess what, though? Similar to this, using a smartphone while walking can throw off your gait.

A growing number of individuals are finding it difficult to put down their phones, and even more of them are using them while on the go. It requires some concentration to absorb visual information to chat on or listen to a phone while you’re walking, but what really bothers you is texting or scrolling while you’re moving. Walking slows you down, shortens your steps, and affects your walking cadence when it becomes a secondary priority to “being on the phone.”3. Walking loses stability, and you have a significantly higher chance of missing crucial visual cues about you.4

The way scrolling interferes with your walk cannot be fixed by physical activity; instead, you should practise self control, especially when you’re walking on the street. If you can, switch the video to audio, and halt your movement when you need to scroll—especially if you’re already at a higher risk of falling.

Make Use of Your Phone to Influence Others

Being a part of a culture implies that we are all affecting one another. Even while it may be difficult to picture living without a smartphone or doing any kind of task, these devices are very new, having only been in the market for a short while. How our bodies and minds will react over time to such widespread use is a subject of very little knowledge.

Until we do, establish your own responsible usage habits, maintain your physical strength and mobility, as well as other skill sets related to smartphones, and share this goal with your loved ones. Tell us about the actions you’re taking to use your phone more carefully. Take the lead and influence others! Instead of leveraging smartphone technology to market a product, try modelling more environmentally friendly phone usage habits and teaching people how to get the most out of this new technology without experiencing too many negative side effects.


The information on this website is presented for educational purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for the diagnosis, treatment, or advice of a qualified, licensed medical professional. The facts presented are offered as information only, not medical advice, and in no way should anyone infer that we are practicing medicine. Seek the advice of a medical professional for proper application of this material to any specific situation.

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