Unless you haven't been paying attention to the news or been on the internet for the past week, then surely you have heard about Pokémon GO. This new augmented reality game is the newest craze all over the world, and it currently has more daily users than other popular apps like Twitter and Tinder. There is even a good chance that you've seen people walking around staring at their smartphones or tablets, trying to find and capture those elusive pokémon. Or maybe you are playing it! For some people, the game has become an obsession. But there is danger in playing the game so much, because all that time playing the game can lead to neck and back problems and severe pain!
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Overuse of smartphones or other handheld devices due to playing the game can lead to a repetitive stress injury in the neck that we have nicknamed "Pokémon Neck." The injury is due to the constant movement of looking forward, then downward, then back again, continuing back and forth like that repeatedly. We call it "Pokémon Neck" because those who are playing Pokémon GO may be especially susceptible to this type of injury, due to the fact that they are forced to rotate between looking down at their screen searching for pokémon and looking forward to see where they are going. The strain of this repetitive motion can not only cause pain in the neck, but also in the arms and shoulders, along with headaches, and more. It can even affect the entire spine all the way to the lower back!
There are some things you can do while hunting pokémon to prevent "Pokémon Neck" from occurring:
- Try to hold your smartphone up to eye level if possible instead of looking down at the screen
- If you do need to look down, do it by tucking your chin into your chest instead of leaning your entire head forward
- When walking around always try to stand up as straight as possible, and keep your chest out and shoulders back
- If possible try not to use your smartphone in direct sunlight, because when it is extra bright out people tend to strain to see what is on the screen and stick their heads forward, increasing the stress on the muscles in the neck
We know you gotta catch 'em all, but by following the tips above you will avoid catching the dreaded "Pokémon Neck" as well!
At The Illinois Back Institute we are dedicated to educating people, because we know that the more that you understand about your problem, the more likely you are to eliminate it.
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