A Linton chiropractor is supporting a national campaign encouraging people to spend more time ‘disconnected’ from their tech devices, following a rise in issues such as loneliness, stress, agoraphobia, fatigue, poor posture, aches and pains and even developmental delays in young people.
Ed Groenhart is taking part in the ‘Get Connected While Disconnected’ campaign which is part of Spinal Awareness Week on 12-18 May 2019, organised by The Alliance of UK Chiropractors (AUKC).
The body, which represents hundreds of chiropractors across the UK and internationally, says children and young adults especially are suffering a greater feeling of real-world disconnection because they’re spending so much time on their phones, computers, social media and digital games.
And they report that some children as young as five and six are getting repetitive strain injuries from playing games on their parents’ mobile phones for too long.
Ed is hoping the campaign will drive home the message that people should switch off from tech for periods of time each day to reconnect with the real-world things that are essential for good physical and mental health.
While chiropractors provide treatments or adjustments to musculoskeletal conditions in the nervous system, this brain/body connection is just one of five areas of health they guide patients on. The others are nutrition, movement, attitudes and relationships, and rest. The AUKC, incorporating the United Chiropractic Association (UCA), McTimoney Chiropractic Association (MCA) and the Scottish Chiropractic Association (SCA), says there’s a ‘disconnect’ in these five ‘pillars of health’ and that technology overuse is a major reason.
Ed, who is also an executive committee member of the UCA, agrees: “The increase in use of computers, mobile phones, PlayStation and Xboxes is leading to an epidemic in terms of aches and pains due to prolonged sitting, poor posture, lack of exercise and the effects of screen time on sleep. I am now personally seeing postural issues in teenagers that 18 years ago, when I was newly qualified, I only saw in older adults. Factor-in the realisation that many of us spend more time communicating electronically, certainly to more people, than we do face-to-face, and there are many emotional and psycho-social issues that I am convinced as related to this aspect of modern lifestyles.
“We don’t need to completely remove ourselves from modern tech gadgets; that’s not practical. However, short periods of switch-off time, screen-free days at weekends and on holiday, for example, can be a start”.
But getting people to switch off is a huge challenge. Researchers found that four out of five students had significant mental and physical distress and extreme isolation when forced to unplug from technology for an entire day (The World Unplugged; Dr Susan Moeller).
And another survey found that 83% of professional workers check their emails after work, while 66% take their technology with them on holiday, and more than half admit sending emails while having a meal with family or friends (Goldsmith, 2016).
Jonathan Clarke, executive member of the UCA, says it’s about getting the balance right: “We’re not saying ‘go and live in a barn in the middle of a remote island and disconnect from the world!’ But create those times in the day when you do take a break away. Give yourself time offline, don’t walk around with the phone in your hand 24/7. We recognise that technology is a great advancement. But we should be measuring that against our own health needs.
“For good health, we need activity, human contact and positive emotions, fresh food, quality sleep and a healthy nervous system. Often, the exact opposite is happening – inactivity and poor posture, loneliness and anxiety, unhealthy eating, poor sleep and a brain/body disconnect.
“We are hoping that this campaign can be the start of a tipping point in people making better choices. Because health issues don’t happen all of a sudden; they’re built up over time. It’s the little day in, day out repetitions that create the problems. Prevention is better than cure.”
The 5 tips to reconnect this Spinal Awareness Week
Move: Be as active as you can.
Be social: Have regular catch-ups with family and friends.
Eat well: Prepare your own packed lunches and meals as much as possible, using healthy choices.
Rest: Switch off all tech a good period of time before going to bed.
Take care of the nervous system: Restore the brain/body connection via treatments & adjustments.
If you’d like more information, contact Ed and Jo Groenhart or pop in for a chat. www.cambridgefamilychiro.co.uk