Smartphone use

Every inch your head moves forward is an extra 10 pounds your neck holds up. (Mike Segar/Reuters)

Health professionals have have seen an uptick in ​headaches, and pain in the neck, back and face they say is increasingly ​linked to poor posture, but there are ways to counteract the damage.

Here are four examples of the damage, why it occurs and one solution, from the Canadian Chiropractic Association and Halifax physiotherapist Janice Moreside:

  • Each year, over 11 million Canadians suffer from at least one musculoskeletal condition, many linked to the use of technology.
  • Low back pain and other musculoskeletal conditions account for one-third of missed work time in Canada — second only to the common cold.
  • Every inch your head moves forward is an extra 10 pounds your neck holds up. Do that for much of the day and the results can be excruciating and costly. 
  • When you stare down at a screen, the head is taken off the vertical and bent forward up to 45 degrees.
  • The Canadian Chiropractic Association’s free Straighten Up Canada app provides 12 short exercises to improve posture. The videos demonstrate stretches and exercises that combat technology-induced poor posture.

Theresa Blackburn, 47, is a writer and a teacher in New Brunswick. She’s seeing a massage therapist for back pain.

"She said, 'You know, you have a hump,’" Blackburn said. "She said it's related  to poor posture and we had a conversation about how I spend a lot of time in front of a computer, and you're kind of hunched down."

Moreside of Dalhousie University in Halifax has been a physiotherapist for more than 35 years. In her career, Moreside has seen many campus students with low back and neck pain or arm dysfunction because of sitting and leaning forward on computers.

Sitting with the shoulders forward can lead to tightness and pulling at the opposing muscles in the back, Moreside said. The arteries, veins and nerves that run to the arms and hands can also be compressed, which increases the likelihood of tennis elbow and carpal tunnel syndrome.

To counteract poor posture, Moreside​ ​recommends​ standing straight, and stretching and strengthening muscles.

With files from CBC's Pauline Dakin