Bad posture can cause a cascade of medical conditions throughout the body including back and neck pain, trouble breathing, poor digestion, nerve issues and more. It’s no surprise that many people can trace the root of their costochondritis to problems with their posture. Bad posture puts stress on our joints and tissues, causing joint stiffness, weakened muscles, and inflammation – in other words, a recipe for costochondritis.
With the current advancements in technology, we now have a new problem to deal with – the iHunch, also sometimes called the iSlouch. For many, this problem doesn’t sound that serious. But, the moment you start to feel the neck pain, back pain, headaches, and major shoulder pain, you’ll begin to understand how serious this problem is.
What is the iHunch?
The iHunch (or slouch) is a term used to refer to a person when they sharply bend their neck over their tablet or phone. This action tilts the head forward in an unnatural position and puts a lot of pressure on the spine.
According to research, there are two types of posture:
- Dynamic posture
- Static posture
Dynamic posture is when the position puts pressure on the spine while moving. Static posture refers to the same position but while standing, sleeping, or sitting.
The iHunch (sometimes called “texting neck”) has become an epidemic – everyone always bent down to look at their phones or tablets, scrolling through Snapchat and Facebook. If we take a look at recent research, people spend on average more than 3.75 hours every day bent over their phones. The more we slouch, the higher the weight we put onto the spine. This can cause permanent spine curvature, back pain, neck pain, and headaches.
What Causes the iHunch?
Anything that changes the upright posture of the spine, whether it is looking at the phone, bending over to work on your laptop or typing on the computer can cause bad posture associated with the iHunch. Certain occupations where workers often need to look down also expose people to this problem including surgeons, chefs, hairdressers, teachers, nurses, office workers, and more.
The most common mistake people make is not paying attention to their posture. Not sitting or standing properly can have the same effect. If we are slouching on a chair, we put pressure on the soft tissues and muscles. The same thing applies when standing upright and sticking your bottom out too far. This is called an anterior pelvic tilt. However, when the bottom sticks out, it curves the lower back unnaturally.
What Are the Symptoms of Bad Posture?
The most common symptoms of bad posture are the following:
- Pain anywhere on the body
- Muscle fatigue
- Rounded shoulders
- Bent knees when walking or standing
- Back pain
- The head leans backward or forward
How to Prevent the iHunch (and Bad Posture)
To avoid putting too much stress on your spine, joints, and muscles, there is a simple way you can prevent iHunch. The first thing you should do is take a moment every single day to check your current posture. Remind yourself how important it is to keep the spine upright and in a natural position. Try practicing this habit as much as you can to get effective results. You can also try a different device, anything that can help keep the spine in its proper position, like the Backpod for example. You just place the Backpod under your back to help fix your posture.
Can Bad Posture Cause Costochondritis?
Costochondritis is an inflammation (often temporary) that causes chest pain, especially in the long bone in the middle of the rib cage (called the sternum). Though Costochondritis can be caused by many different things, physical therapists and physicians are seeing more cases due to people bending over their smartphones and laptops. When the upper back is hunched over for long periods of time, your support muscles weaken and the rib joints become tight and immobile, eventually freezing up. When these rib joints are frozen up, this can set off costochondritis pain on the front of the chest when they become tight enough.
If you’re suffering from the iHunch, you’re putting a lot of pressure on your shoulders and spine. The muscles down the back of the neck become overworked. The more pressure you put on the shoulders and spine, the more problems you are going to face. If the shoulders are rounded all day, every day, the body will try to compensate for it. At some point, the chest will feel tight, which is why you can feel rib and sternum pain. This type of pain is associated with costochondritis.
5 Tips for Improving your Posture
You can improve your posture by adding a couple of new lifestyle changes. It’s not easy, but it’s certainly worth it. Not only will you look good, but you will also feel a million times better. If you think you slouch too much or use your phone too often, then it’s time to take a step back and implement a couple of changes. Here are a few ways you can improve your posture:
1. Stand Upright When Walking
Keep your back straight and look forward instead of looking at the ground. Keep the chin up and high, stomach in, and shoulders back. This is how a proper posture should look like.
2. Walk Like You Have a Book on Your Head
Imagine placing a book on top of your head and you have to walk from one place to the other without letting the book fall over. To do that, you have to keep your back straight and your head up. Focus on looking straight ahead – and don’t let that book fall!
3. Sit Properly
Your back should be at a proper right angle to the thighs, shoulders straight, neck and back aligned, and head upright. Don’t slouch or lean forward!
4. Don’t Slouch to Text
Want to send a text message? Stretch the neck and avoid tilting the head. Bring the phone slightly towards the face at an angle that will help you see better without having to bend over to type. Just lift the phone up and move it towards your eyes.
5. Select a Proper Mattress
Having a saggy or too soft mattresses can bend the spine unnaturally. A firm mattress can hold the spine in proper shape. Side sleepers typically need a softer mattress, so they can sink in far enough to align the spine without putting too much pressure on any single point.
If you look around the Costochondritis forums on the internet, you’ll see many anecdotal cases of people reporting improvements in their symptoms from fixing their posture. Bad posture, and especially the iHunch, is not something that should be ignored. Even though it doesn’t sound too threatening, it can still pose a serious problem for your health and body posture. However, as long as you are focused on fixing your posture, you can improve your costochondritis symptoms, and can get the spine back in its proper position naturally and gradually.
https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/common-posture-mistakes-and-fixes/ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IHunch https://www.thehealthy.com/osteoporosis/surprising-ways-bad-posture-can-affect-your-health/ https://www.bodystance.co.nz/costochondritis https://sg.theasianparent.com/text-neck-islouching-igrinding
Dr. Ahmed Zayed is a surgery resident practicing plastic surgery and working on his masters degree. Dr. Zayed has a passion for helping people live healthy lives, and has authored several books. He has contributed to publications such as the Washington Post, HuffPo, Chicago Tribune, and more. Dr. Zayed has an MD from the University of Alexandria, one of the largest medical schools in Egypt.