Dr Mosley says putting your phone down could reduce back pain

NHS explain the best ways to treat back pain

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Small enough to fit into your pocket, phones are no longer just about calling and texting. The tiny devices encompass everything from diaries to cameras and navigation to entertainment. While smartphones can make your life much easier, the benefits sadly don’t come without a toll on your health, according to Dr Michael Mosley.

The Just One Thing host isn’t against phones, quite the contrary. Speaking on his podcast, Dr Mosley said: “It’s really bizarre. 

“I have spent a lot of my career with a paper diary, looking things up in books, but now I use my phone for everything.”

And the doctor isn’t the only one guilty of heavy phone use, as adults in the UK spend almost three hours on average using smart devices daily.

Worryingly, research continues to increasingly suggest that phones can lead to poor posture.

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A Family Chiropractic Clinic explains that cell phones can actually cause spinal pain.

It all comes down to how you stand when using the device. The clinic explains: “Looking down at a cell phone tilts the head forward and causes the muscle in the back and neck to become fatigued more quickly. 

“This is because our heads are actually quite heavy and need the support of our entire neck and back throughout the day.”

Fortunately, Dr Mosley shared that putting your phone down could “reduce back pain”.

The podcaster said: “A large study in Sweden that looked at over 7,000 young adults found that sending fewer texts was linked to lower levels of neck and upper back pain. 

“And Korean researchers found that spending four hours a day or more on a smartphone not only led to poor posture, but also reduced respiratory function – how well you breathe.”

While putting your phone down could be a good place to start, Professor Adrian Ward, from the University of Texas at Austin, suggested it might not be enough.

Speaking on Dr Mosley’s podcast, Ward said: “Anytime your phone is in the environment, it represents all these wonderful and rewarding things.

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“It represents cat videos, and our friends, work email, our calendars – that attracts our attention. 

“And so even when we’re not paying attention to our phones, when we’re actually resisting that urge to pick up our phones and to text our friends, or to go to YouTube, or to go on social media, the process of controlling our attention uses up some of those limited cognitive resources.”

This means that just having your phone next to you could cause your cognitive performance and brain power to go down.

Sadly, turning the device off doesn’t seem to be enough either. Ward added: “We found the same cognitive cost of having your phone around whether or not it was turned on. 

“If it’s still there, you’re still seeing it. 

“It’s still reminding you of all those things you could be doing on your phone or with your phone.”

So, if you want to have some quality well-being time without your smartphone, you should keep it in a different room.

The good news is that doing so may improve your sleep, brain power, mood and back pain, according to Dr Mosley.

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