Teenagers and digital activities: a pair that is often very closely related, with multiple implications, but implications that can also be physical. We talk about this topic with Dr. Lara Castagnetti, specialist in orthopedic rehabilitation and osteopathy in Humanitas.
“More and more teenagers are complaining of backaches and are feeling hunched, with back and thigh muscles that are inelastic and retracted. They are often children around 15-16 years who devote a lot of time to digital activities (smartphones, tablets, video games), are sedentary and do not play sports. At this age, in fact, unless there is a great passion born in childhood, the sport is abandoned and it is not easy to convince children of the importance of physical activity,” says the specialist.
Worse balance and coordination
“The constant use of digital technologies during the execution of motor tasks such as walking, worsens balance and coordination; the center of gravity moves forward and shoulders tend to close: that’s why the boys appear more and more hunched, resembling office workers in postural terms, who spend time with their heads, necks and backs bending on their desks.
A study has shown that when faced with the demand for complex motor tasks the coordination worsens and therefore there is a worsening of walking if you write to the mobile phone while walking, with the risk of not perceiving the presence of obstacles in front of you and stumble,” says Dr. Castagnetti.
When should I contact my doctor?
“The warning sign is the presence of back pain, constant or intermittent, but that lasts for a long time. During the specialist examination, we look at the back and ask for any radiological tests to exclude any diseases in the spine or dysmorphic disorders. We then proceed with osteopathic treatment and postural re-education.
Osteopathic treatment and postural re-education
“Osteopathic treatment is part of manual medicine: the practitioner uses his own hands to apply precise techniques (which may vary depending on the objective to be achieved) that act at the level of the soft tissues, for example the muscles and fascia, and the skeleton, where necessary. The aim is to rebalance the structure; however, the benefits of osteopathic treatment must be supported by postural re-education. If muscular reinforcement and the assumption of adequate positions are not associated, the disorders will reoccur: it is therefore essential to educate muscles and breathing in order to improve the patient’s posture and thus maintain the benefits of osteopathy,” emphasizes Dr. Castagnetti.
The role of sport
The fight against sedentariness is also fundamental, and it is good that young people devote themselves to physical activity. Aerobic activities, which contribute to muscular elasticity and trophism, are indicated. From a postural point of view, sports such as volleyball, basketball, rowing and swimming (especially in the style of the back) are particularly suitable. The commitment should be constant, 2-3 times a week, but without reaching competitive levels,” concludes the doctor.