A pain in the back for teenagers

Sir, – Surely the purported solution offered by two Dutch orthopaedic specialists, to avoid the damage of “Gameboy back”, is at variance with their own findings and comments (Front page, August 12th). It certainly is at variance with what FM Alexander discovered over 100 years ago, and with what Alexander Technique teachers the world over, have been teaching ever since.

In describing the damage done to children’s bones by prolonged periods of hunching over Gameboys, phones and iPods, your report quotes Dr Van Loon as saying, “Essentially it’s like growing bonsai trees: bone responds in the same way as wood. If you force it (bone) in a certain direction over a prolonged period, that’s how it ends up growing.”

In my professional experience, the same problems arise from prolonged periods spent in poorly designed school chairs and desks.

If you instruct parents to have their children lie on their front and prop themselves up on their elbows, are you not simply forcing their bones in another direction over a prolonged period, with similar damages and problems? You also further complicate the problem by forcing the child to pull his or her head back onto their spine, which now distorts their necks. You also force their lower back into the floor, putting excessive pressure on the lumbar spine. Please, just picture the shape you are now forcing your child into by imagining him or her in a vertical position while propped up on their elbows!

Given all the body-distorting elements in a child’s environment, the correct answer is to teach children (which they readily adopt) how to sit so that they do not inflict any damage on their growing bones, either from Gameboys, or from poorly designed chairs and desks at school.

Incidentally, this advice also applies to adults who exhibit the exact same, and similar damages caused by sitting at a computer desk and driving a car for prolonged periods. – Yours, etc,



Irish Society of

Alexander Technique


Clare Street,