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Poor Posture Linked to Chronic Pain

FILE - People work on laptops in a reading room at the British Library in London, June 20, 2011.

Cellphones and computers are everywhere in almost every country across the globe, and it is common to see people hunched over these devices.

When Dr. Lushantha Gunasekera at Orlando Health began feeling back pain, he thought he needed strength training.

"It was mainly pain in my upper back and neck and shoulder area," he said. "It was just on the one side."

Nathaniel Melendez, a fitness specialist at the Orlando Health gym, was certain the doctor's pain was from poor posture.

"The internally rotated shoulders, the rounded back, head is down, neck is down," he said, describing what he saw in Gunasekera.

Hunching over a computer screen or cellphone compresses the neck muscles, which causes fatigue, muscle tension and headaches, and can injure vertebrae, Melendez says, but adds that it can be prevented and corrected.

"You'd be surprised what strengthening your core and doing postural corrective exercises can do for your body," he said.

Melendez says even a slight misalignment can cause major strain, but researchers at Orlando Health found that less than half the Americans they surveyed seemed to care — until the pain sets in.

As for Gunasekera, he says changing his posture made a huge difference.

"It's really helped out," he said. "Now, I don't have pain there anymore."

Experts advise computer users who are seated to be at eye level with the screen. Cellphone and computer users are encouraged to take frequent breaks and to remain aware of their posture.