According to recent research, the extensive use of video games is affecting children’s bodies as well as their minds. When I started as a chiropractor in 1995, only about 1 in 20 of the kids I screened had scoliosis, or curvature of the spine. Today about 75 percent of the kids we’re analyzing have some form of this condition, and it’s largely due to our modern technology.
Why Scoliosis Is On the Rise
When a kid is playing/typing/texting for hours on a computer, iPad or cellphone, it puts the body in a state where the shoulders roll forward. This in turn causes tightness in the pectoral muscles in the front of the chest, and those muscles continue to pull the shoulders further and further forward. The forward position of the shoulders then tightens the trapezius muscles in the upper back.
Why this all matters is because when muscles become tight, they actually become weak, allowing gravity to start pulling the person off center in two different ways.
First, the spine can curve front to back, causing the person to lean forward and look like the proverbial old lady or old man. The other possible outcome is the spine curving side to side. These issues are cosmetic but they can also create some serious health problems both now and in the future.
Old Before Their Time
The spinal disks of people with scoliosis degenerate 15 to 20 years faster than those without it, meaning early osteoarthritis is likely.
Rounding of the shoulders can lead to hyperkyphosis, a condition where the shoulders move so far forward that the ear is literally just in front of the shoulder. If this develops, the person has a 10- to 12-year lower life expectancy that someone with good posture. The hunched position compresses the heart and lungs which creates a higher risk of cardiovascular and respiratory problems.
So catching and straightening any curvature in the spine early on will not only keep the condition from getting worse, but it could also prevent some of those major health problems down the road.
Is Prevention Possible?
To lessen the prevalence of scoliosis in today’s kids, two things definitely need to happen.
Whenever a child is sitting in front of an electronic device, he or she should be treated like someone on the job at a workstation. The chair, desk and computer should all be ergonomically correct. This means sitting at right angles, feet flat on the floor, spine straight up and down. If needed, use a lumbar support on the chair to push the belly forward and the shoulders back.
Along with this, have kids stretch at regular intervals. Good stretches would include bringing the arms back to stretch out the front of the body. This will keep the chest muscles from getting tight and weak which starts the downward spiral to scoliosis.
A third option is to find a good chiropractor for the initial screening/diagnosis and for on-going treatment should the condition develop. A combined effort can help today’s technology kids have a long and healthy life.
If you’re looking for a Virginia Beach chiropractor, I am extremely experienced in the screening, diagnosis and treatment of scoliosis. Call me today at 757-473-9900 to set up an appointment!