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UNITED KINGDOM — With handheld devices taking center stage in everyday life, technology lovers may not realize the way they hold their favorite gadget can have an impact on their health, according to a new study.
Dubbed "iPosture" by researchers, slouching while texting and surfing the web is the driving force behind a wave of back pain in millennials, according to a survey of 3,000 adults by United Kingdom health cash plan provider Simplyhealth.
They said 84 percent of 18- 24 year olds reported experiencing back pain in the past 12 months. The average number of working days the group lost to back pain was 1.5 days more than their parents' generation and higher than any other age group, the study found.
Researchers said people from almost all age groups spend just as much time in front of a screen as they do participating in one of their other favorite hobbies, sleeping.
The difference between age groups seems to come from how they behave in front of the screen, according to the study. Two thirds of 18- 24 year olds admitted to slouching in front of their computers at work and half said they repeat the behavior at home. Researchers said 45- 54 year olds were twice as likely to report sitting up straight in front of the screen.
"Slumping and hunching over computers and hand-held devices appears to be a contributory factor in the difference in types of back pain between the generations," said Acting Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of BackCare Dr. Brain Hammond in a press release. "Younger people are far more likely to be hunched over a device on a sofa, and would benefit from paying close attention to the basics of good posture."
Fortunately, less-than-enjoyable back pain can be avoided by obeying old-fashioned advice to just sit or stand up straight.
"Although it has been decades since people learned good posture at finishing schools, the time seems right to recognize its potential to help younger people avoid the risk of back pain associated with increasing use of hand-held devices," said etiquette and deportment expert Jean Broke-Smith in a press release.
Half of the battle is being aware you are slouching or hunching over your favorite device, Broke-Smith said.
For those hoping to avoid becoming part of the iPosture crowd, the Mayo Clinic offers advice to help prevent back pain. When standing, they said it is important to keep weight balanced evenly on both feet, pull in the abdomen and have shoulders back and relaxed. Those sitting down should be able to rest their feet flat on the floor and sit back in their chair.