Technology has come a long way over the past decade, and it's exciting to live in a time where you can access entertainment anywhere you go, even at the gym.
However, some physicians in the medical community have some real concerns about their clients watching movies or playing games on the phone or tablet while exercising.
Dr. Patrick Smith, a UPMC-St. Margaret's Hospital Orthopaedic Doctor Specializing in Spine Care, recently stated, “While we encourage all of our patients to stay active, we also encourage them to stay focused and maintain good form while exercising. Watching movies, texting, and playing games has become an increasing issue that we educate our patients on.”
The problem doesn't lie with the entertainment itself. In fact, distracting your mind with some quality entertainment can actually improve and increase performance, motivation, and consistency.
The bad behavior lies with “how” you're consuming your music, show, game, etc.
“The hidden danger in watching or playing on your phone or tablet is the unnecessary stress and pressure you can place on your neck,” adds Dr. Smith. “When you look down at your digital device, you're actually hyper-flexing your cervical spine. Prolonged periods looking down at your phone or tablet have proven over the past few years to cause neck pain and headaches for many tech users.”
One solution to correcting this problem is by positioning your device at eye level. Doing so keeps your neck in proper alignment and limits the stress on your neck and upper back muscles. If this is not possible, then we'd recommend either eliminating this activity from your workouts or changing your form of entertainment.
For example, if you're looking to push yourself harder and give yourself some extra energy, then listening to fun, upbeat music may be right for you.
If you're not looking to push yourself, and instead just looking to maintain your sanity and avoid boredom, then listening to an audio book may be best for you.
Whatever the case may be, looking forward and maintaining good posture during your exercise session is key to avoiding this hidden danger and keeping yourself safe.
If you've been watching your digital device while exercising for quite some time and have been experiencing headaches, low back pain, or any other discomfort, we encourage you to seek medical attention.
Stay active, keep good form, and live healthy!