“Smartphones are bad for your back!” says back specialist, launching new app

As I sit here, hunched over my laptop, churning out blog after blog exposing the sheer volume of PR nonsense in the UK press, one thought strikes me often: “Thank god I’m not attempting this on a tablet or iPad”. That’s because I know just how bad flat touchscreens can be for your spinal health:

iPosture backache rockets among the young

A BACKACHE epidemic hitting young adults who hunch over their smartphones and tablet computers has sparked a new medical term — “iPosture”.

Workers aged 18 to 24 risk agony. They already take 1½ days more off sick with back.

Source: The Sun “+”, 1st October 2013

Do you suffer from iPosture? Tablets and smartphones are causing an epidemic of back pain as people hunch over devices

It sounds like the latest gadget from Apple. But ‘iPosture’ is being blamed for an alarming level of back pain among 18 to 24-year-olds.

The term is being used to describe the stooped body shape adopted by those texting, emailing or playing games on their iPad or smartphone.

Source: Daily Mail, 1st October 2013

Christ, an epidemic? And all related unequivocally to smartphone and tablet use? How did we not find out about this sooner? Why didn’t our parents warn us about it? How could we be so blind?!

Or, alternatively, is this definitely, definitely true? 

Some 84 per cent of those aged 18 to 24 admitted to having suffered back pain in the past year, in a survey by the healthcare provider Simplyhealth. 

So, it’s self-reported outcomes rather than clinical data or patient data? Hardly the most reliable way to track and diagnose an ‘epidemic’.Still, a healthcare provider wouldn’t have any motivation to make anything like this up, targeting smartphone and tablet users specifically, surely? Well, that’s something that becomes clearer upon examining the original press release:

The results were published in association with the newly launched Simplyhealth BackCare App, following a study carried out among 3,000 adults.

Taking note of the fact that the survey was carried out by Bad PR regulars OnePoll – hardly the most credible source of health information for the general public – it transpires that SimplyHealth are launching their own app to help promote better back care when using smartphones. 

A final footnote: putting the original press release through Churnalism.com, it appears rather than being the work of prolific writer ‘Daily Mail Journalist’, it may well have been Sarah Griffiths who penned this piece. And by ‘penned this piece’ I mean ‘took 89% of a press release and added 11% of house style in the edit process’.

On the plus side, at least Sarah can’t have spent long hunched over her keyboard putting this piece together.