Have you ever considered how technology may be harming you? A recent study found that Americans check their mobile phones an average of 344 times per day. That is once every four minutes! And that is just one of the many tech devices at our disposal. In this technological age, we have infinite amounts of information at our fingertips. From smartphones and tablets to laptops and video games, our devices do make life’s tasks more efficient.
We will look at common tech-related injuries and provide tips to prevent these conditions so you can use technology safely and comfortably.
Tech injuries happen for several reasons.
Repetitive use of certain body parts–particularly the wrist, hand, and thumb–can lead to pain, stiffness, and other physical symptoms. How we sit, stand, or lie down when we are using devices also impacts our health. If you spend a lot of time looking down at a phone or laptop, you can stretch the tendons, ligaments, and muscles of the upper back and neck.
Spending hours every day slouched over our laptop or scrolling away on our cell phone can take a toll on our bodies–often in ways you might not expect. Here are some conditions that show how technology may be harming you.
Staring at a screen all day may fatigue your eyes and lead to headaches. Poor posture while sitting may also irritate the neck muscles and joints that refer pain to the head.
It is necessary for the neck to move in all directions. Yet if you text often, use your phone for a prolonged time, or have a desk setup that is too low, you may be at risk for neck pain. These activities result in prolonged and excessive looking down, or cervical flexion. Holding the head in this position can put as much as 60 pounds of force on the spine.
Sitting or standing for a long time with poor posture is common with office or desk jobs. The abnormal forces through the spine can reduce the blood flow to your back which may irritate the discs, nerves, and muscles, causing pain in the lower back.
Photo selfies may be the cause of your elbow pain. Excessive repetition of this outstretched position can irritate muscles and tendons in the forearm, similar to golfer’s or tennis elbow.
Repetitive motion of the thumb associated with excessively playing video games, texting, scrolling on your phone can irritate the joints and ligaments. Prolonged wiping your screen can lead to strain of the tendons of the thumb and irritation of the radial nerve.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition caused by swelling of the carpal tunnel passageway in the wrist which puts pressure on the median nerve. That pressure leads to pain, numbness, and/or tingling in the hand and forearm. People who type on a keyboard for work or play video games can develop carpal tunnel.
It may seem difficult to avoid these injuries if technology is an important part of your daily life. But the good news is, with mindful tech use, they can be managed and even prevented.
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