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iHunch on the rise in New Zealand

May 8, 2017

As people spend more time hunched over while they look at phones, tablets and laptops there has been a rise in neck and upper back pain. Trends in New Zealand parallel those in other countries.

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Image: picture alliance/dpa/C. Klose

The number of people complaining of neck or upper back pain is on the rise in New Zealand, a phenomenon a report in the "New Zealand Herald" suggested is caused by iHunch.

More and more people are spending time hunched over their phones, tablets and laptops, creating long-term damage to their posture, according to the report.

Retired New Zealand physiotherapist Steve August first coined the term iHunch after he noticed teenagers coming in with a forward leaning curved upper back typically seen in old women and men.

Medical experts believe a growing number of upper back and neck pain complaints are caused by people slouching over while using technology.

The average head weighs between 4.5 to 5 kilograms (10 to 11 pounds) and was designed to stand upright above the spine.  When people look down at handheld devices or laptops at 45, 60 or 90 degree angles -- sometimes for hours a day -- it puts pressure on the neck and upper back.

What do experts recommend? Keep your head level and shoulders upright when looking at phones, tablets and laptops. Maintain good posture and do back exercise. Or just get off the phone for a while to enjoy life.


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