How is modern computer use making us sick?
Modern living on computers and smart phones make us vulnerable to chronic neck and back pain, headaches, tennis elbow, carpal tunnel, sciatica and a condition called Upper Crossed Syndrome.
Upper Crossed Syndrome is a combination of tight, overworked muscles alongside weak, inhibited ones. The result is rounded shoulders and a forward head posture. Because the muscles aren’t working in harmony, there can be joint instability, as well as unwanted stress to the spine, muscles and nervous system.
The Problem of Modern Computer Use
For most of us, our work lifestyles are sedentary and revolve around computer use. Forty percent of us spend at least four hours a day sitting in front of a computer. Ninety percent of us use a computer at some point during the day.
Here are the most common culprits and what you can do about them:
Only eleven percent of workstations have adjustable heights which force workers to sit for prolonged periods of time.
Ask for an adjustable work station so you can alternate periods of sitting with standing.
Take an active break from the computer every thirty to sixty minutes.
Make sure your eyes are level with the top third of the screen, approximately eighteen to twenty-four inches away.
Position your body in a neutral spine position with wrists straight, elbows and hips at ninety degrees or more and feet flat.
Switch back and forth between typing and using a mouse to avoid overusing one part of your body.
Exercise after work, focusing on movements that strengthen the core.
Laptops are built for convenience. Unfortunately, that convenience breaks ergonomic best practices. Since the keyboard is attached to the monitor, it’s impossible to position a laptop in a way that doesn’t strain your wrist, eyes or neck. Because laptops are portable, they are typically used in awkward lying down positions leading to more muscle and joint irritation.
Use a riser and separate plug-in keyboard to mimic a desktop.
Use your laptop while seated instead of lying down.
Take frequent breaks.
Smartphones & Tablets
More and more young people are reporting repetitive strain injuries like tendonitis and carpal tunnel syndrome. Thumbs, fingers and wrists are not designed to handle the small repetitive movements associated with texting.
Use voice texting or auto complete tools on your phone. Keep texts brief.
Consider talking on the phone or with an app like Voxer instead of texting.
Keep your wrist straight and not flexed or extended while holding your device.
Maintain an upright posture while texting. Don’t bend your head down constantly.
Remember that our bodies were not designed to sit for long periods of time and the modern conveniences we use everyday are causing a different type of stress and strain in our lives. Stop and take time to stretch, exercise, practice good posture and move your body.
And if you need a chiropractor to walk with you on your wellness journey, contact our office for a free consultation.
Dr. Megan Afshar is a chiropractor in the Greenville, South Carolina area, specializing in pregnancy and pediatric chiropractic. For a free new patient consult, please contact our office.