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Pokemon Go and your spine

Pikachu and Text neck

Pokemon Go has been an all out sensation, but Pokemon Go has suffered some controversy since it's launch; with two men walking off the edge of a cliff in California whilst trying to catch the mythical creatures, then one teen walked onto a busy highway and was hit by a car - fortunately no-one was killed but these people did suffer some serious injuries. 

Pokemon Go does seems to lead to some problems. It seems people everywhere have their heads down, focused on their phones. I’ll be the first to admit that, like many of my patients, I spend WAY too much time on my computer and iPhone. It's producing a new type of stress injury. We previously called this "Text neck" affect the nerves, muscles and bones of the spine - I think it will be renamed the "Pikachu Posture". As your head is bent forward, its stresses the supportive ligaments of your neck. A mere 15 Degree angles causes effect weight of the head to double.

How does Using Your Phone Affect You?

 - Infrared radiation affects your mental acuity

 - Playing Angry birds can become addictive

 - The way you use them can stress the spine

 - Hunting Pokemon during meal time can affect your digestion

Worst of all, I don't know anyone who has managed to catch a Pikachu yet?

But...

There are some definite benefits to Pokemon Go, I have seen more people out walking in the last few weeks chasing down Pokemon and trying to crack eggs. THIS IS DEFINTIELY A GOOD THING. The benefits of walking just 30 minutes everyday are massive. It can have impacts on the usual things that you would expect like the health of your heart and lungs. It helps to restore and maintain normal cholesterol triglyceride levels. Walking does much more than this though - it can enhancing learning by TWELVE times (who'd of thought catching Pokemon could make us smarter). 

Pros:

  • You’re off your ass

While this is not Cross-fit type activity, it is vastly better than not moving at all, especially because many of the people playing Pokémon Go will walk for a few or even several miles which are likely a lot farther than most of them have walked without playing Pokémon GO. You have a purpose to move. Of course, we all have enough research that paints very clear reasons how exercise is immensely beneficial for your overall health and quality of life. If that were enough we’d all be out walking and running and biking daily. Obviously, it’s not so we need some motivation. I can say that, in my opinion, you will walk faster and farther playing Pokémon Go than if you were simply out walking to get some exercise.

Cons:

  • This is NOT High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), or is it?

High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is a very good way to improve your aerobic capacity, increase metabolism and exercise in a short time. Pokémon Go is typically done by walking because, in order to see where the little beasts are, you have to have your head buried in a phone to see the leaves moving and then head to that area. Maybe if I was sprinting you could make it a form of HIIT. But your intervals would be GREATLY varied in time and you have to slow down a lot to keep checking your phone.

  • If you have neck pain, headache or migraines be wary.

Even if you don’t experience neck pain, headache or migraines, if you keep your head looking down long enough you may create some cervical (neck) problems. If you already do have neck pain, headache or migraines you need to be careful. Make sure that your smartphone is being held so that your eyes are level with the horizon. In short, keep your head up! If you are experiencing any of these symptoms you need to get your spine checked by a good structurally focused chiropractor to rule out any abnormal spinal shifts.

  • Don’t be stupid and get hit by a car!

Please remember that no game is fun or good exercise if you wind up walking into traffic or if your lazy ass feels the need to cheat by driving around town on your phone. There has already been one major car accident caused by the insatiable need to “catch them all”. There will be more car accidents. Don’t be one of them. I encourage you to use this as a tool to get out and be active.
Your health is more valuable than a Pikachu.

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