Friday, June 25, 2010

Have You Heard of FHP?

I am just amazed at how fast children pick up on technology. My little three-year-old grandson can handle my itouch almost better than I can! He loves to play it whenever I give him the chance. (I think kids should be using their imagination for playing at that age so I’m not keen on having him spend a lot of time with it.)

Looking around I see that people are constantly "connected" to their hand-held devices, whether it’s their cell phones, video games like Nintendo DS, Amazon Kindle, or they are using apps on an iPhone or itouch. A Kaiser Family Foundation survey found that young people 8-18 years old spend in excess of seven-and-a-half hours a day using some form of mobile media.(I recently went on a vacation with my sister and my teen-age niece. Her phone never left her hand—texting!) The amount of time spent in a forward head tilt while texting or gaming, surfing or browsing the Web may result in people developing a condition known as forward head posture (FHP).

I had never really heard about that until I read a To Your Health online newsletter. ( Their latest issue had an article about FHP. So I did a little more research.

Would you be surprised that your neck and shoulders hurt if you had a 20 pound watermelon hanging around your neck? That's precisely what forward head posture is doing. FHP can cause neck and back pain. muscle pain and more. So what can be done about this? (I know my niece won’t give up texting!)

* Most kids/adults use poor posture when playing video games and watching TV. Repetitively sitting in one position for long periods of time causes the body to adapt to this bad posture. Every 20-30 minutes, sit up straight and pull the neck and head back over the shoulders.

*Take frequent breaks. If you sit for long periods, especially at your computer,take frequent breaks, even if only for 30 seconds to get up or do some neck exercises. Pull your head over your shoulders and squeeze the blades of your shoulders together in the back.

*Choosing a supportive neck pillow is very important since we spend about a third of our time sleeping. This time can be used to help your neck posture rather than hurt it with the proper neck pillow support.

*A great way to re-program yourself to get rid of forward head posture is to perform 10 chin retractions every hour on the hour throughout the day. (That would be a lot of good exercise!)

*Children are now using backpacks to carry school books weighing up to an alarming 30-40 lbs! This forces the head forward to counter balance the weight resulting in abnormal stress to the discs, joints and nerves of the neck, shoulders and lower back. Backpacks - maximum backpack weight should be 15% of the child’s weight. Never wear backpacks over one shoulder.

*If you are having pain, seek the advice of a chiropractor. They can give specific exercises to combat FHP.

Since I spend a fair amount of time on the computer, I’m going to try to do the chin retractions. Had you heard of FHP before? Do you have any experience with pain from FHP?

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