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Smartphones have invaded our world and taken over our lives.  Everywhere you look you will find people scrolling and tapping on their phones oblivious to their surroundings.  Even when people aren’t actively using their phones, they are often carrying them or have them close by just in case the need to check their Facebook messages one more time.

Smartphones have brought the entire world to our fingertips.  Unfortunately, that convenience has resulted in a slew of health consequences.  Our bodies did not come equipped with a smartphone for a reason. 

Here are 6 health problems that can result from prolonged use of your smartphone.

Your muscles become weaker.

Muscles need to be moved in order to be strong and to keep you healthy.  Smartphones and other electronics encourage little to no exercise or movement.  By reducing your amount of activity, you are also reducing the amount of movement in your muscles.  Over time, this will lead to decreased strength and flexibility making it more difficult for you to do the things you really want to do.

You have bad posture.

Take a look around at people as they are using their phones.  You will quickly see a very unhealthy pattern.  Necks bent forward with shoulders rounded all to look at very small screens.  As we spend longer amounts of time in front of these small screens, our bodies begin to adapt and make changes to our posture.  After these changes are made, proper posture is more difficult to achieve which can lead to other issues.

Your joints hurt.

The posture adaptations your body makes can lead to permanent changes in your spinal joints.  But it doesn’t stop there.  The constant scrolling and use of fingers can also lead to early onset of osteoarthritis in the small joints of your fingers.

Your nerves can be damaged.

Cubital Tunnel Syndrome is a nerve impingement syndrome that may be associated with smartphone usage.  As your elbow is bent for long periods of time, the ulnar nerve can be pinched and lead to numbness and/or tingling in your forearm, hands or fingers.

Your vision is worse.

A lot of research indicates that vision changes are likely to accompany extended use of smartphones.  Straining to see small images or read small text is just one way that your eyes can be harmed.

You can’t sleep well. 

Exposure to blue light can alter sleep patterns, especially if you use your phone after dark.  Our smartphones use short waves that can cause you to have difficulty falling asleep.  Lack of sleep affects our health in many other ways, including delayed healing times.

This is only a partial list of the negative effects your smartphone usage is having on your health.  Studies have shown that smartphone use is also associated with depression, anxiety disorders and other interpersonal problems including damaged relationships.

There are ways that you can still enjoy using your smartphone while avoiding or limited the health consequences.

Turn your phone off. 

Designate several times throughout the day that your phone is completely shut off.  This can help to eliminate the temptation to just grab your phone out of boredom.

Delete time wasting apps.

Our phones have become not only a source of information, but also entertainment.  Most people don’t realize how much time they are spending on their phones on apps for social media and games.  These apps purposefully omit a clock for a reason.  By deleting these apps, you will avoid spending as much time on your phone and reduce the physical consequences.

Charge phone in different room.

Too many of us sleep with our phones right beside our beds.  Waking up to check the time may require us to pick up the phone.  The light from the phone can disrupt our sleep and the temptation to check emails or get on social media may be too great for you to resist.  Placing the phone outside of your room while it is charging will solves that!

You don’t have to let your smartphone contribute to a decrease in your health.  A physical therapist can show you even more strategies that will help you use your phone safely and reduce the negative effects.

If you are experiencing any problems from using your smartphone, make an appointment with your physical therapist today to discuss a plan to return you to health.