There is a strict relation between teenagers and digital activities. Yet the implications of their relationship may well be physical too. We asked Doctor Lara Castagnetti, a specialist in orthopaedic rehabilitation and osteopathy at Humanitas.
“More and more adolescents lament back pains and appear hunchbacked, with rigid, contracted muscles in their back and thighs. They are generally 15 to 16-year-old teenagers who spend a lot of time on digital activities (smartphones, tablets, video games), have a sedentary lifestyle and play no sport. In fact, at this age teenagers often abandon sports, while it’s difficult to convince them about the importance of physical activities”, the specialist explains.
Balance and Coordination get Worse
A constant use of digital technologies while performing motor tasks, such as walking, worsen your balance and coordination.
“The barycenter moves forward and the shoulders hunch. That’s why teenagers seem hunchbacked, like those office workers who spend hours on end hunched over their desks.
A study demonstrated that people are less coordinated when they have to perform complex motor tasks. By using their phone while walking, they get less able to walk and they also risk to be too distracted to pay attention to the obstacles they encounter on their path”, Doctor Castagnetti points out.
When Should you go to the Doctor?
The warning bell is the presence of a constant or an intermittent backache that lasts for a long time.
During the medical visit, we look at the back and ask for radiological tests in order to ascertain whether there are rachis disorders or dysmorphias. Then we proceed with an osteopathic treatment and with the postural re-education”.
Osteopathic Treatment and Postural Re-education
“The osteopathic treatment is part of manual medicine. The operator uses their own hands to perform some techniques (different ones according to the goal to reach) on the soft tissues. For example on the muscles, and on the skeleton, if necessary. The aim is to restore the balance of the structure. However, the benefits of the osteopathic treatment have to be maintained via the postural re-education.
If patients do not reinforce their muscles and assume the right posture, their backache will come back.
Thus, it is paramount to educate muscles and breathing in order to restore the posture of patients and help them benefit from the osteopathic treatment”, Doctor Castagnetti points out.
The role of Sports
Adolescents have to stop having a sedentary lifestyle and engage in physical activities. The best ones are aerobic activities because they contribute to muscular elasticity and health. In terms of posture, the best sports are volley, basket, rowing and swimming (especially backstroke swimming). Young people should practice these sports twice or three times per week, but not at the agonistic level”, the doctor concludes.