In the digital age, spending countless hours on our digital devices can contribute to a host of health issues. While some health problems are directly related to posture, others are indirectly associated with sedentary lifestyles.
Technology can lead to neck and back pain and osteoarthritis, and the effects of chronic spinal misalignment can have a repercussion on the entire body. Over time, mobility, stability, flexibility, and even nerve function can be impacted.
Here are 5 ways that technology can put a strain on your health, and what you can do about it:
1 – Poor Posture And Anterior Head Carriage
Everywhere we look today, people are hunched over their phones or electronic devices. ‘Text neck’ as it has come to be known, comes from spending long periods in this position, which can lead to poor posture, aches, and pains in the neck, shoulders, and back. This constant overuse and stress on the body is becoming more and more common today and can affect a person’s quality of life in ways that may not be readily apparent.
Statistics show that office workers, manual laborers, and healthcare workers are most at risk of developing neck issues. For office workers, it’s at an alarming 45.5%, which speaks to the poor posture and ergonomic setups of most office spaces, among other reasons. Despite young adults being most at risk of text neck, recent surveys show:
- only 21% know text neck and ways to prevent it,
- 30% of neck pain patients will develop chronic neck pain,
- and 24% of all visits to chiropractors are due to neck pain. (1)
As for sedentary lifestyles, research suggests that only 21% of adults are meeting the physical activity guidelines, while less than 5 % t perform 30 minutes of physical activity per day. (2)
Some of the unfortunate side effects of poor posture and a sedentary lifestyle can include:
- Headaches and migraines
- Chronic neck and upper back pain
- Poor circulation
- Brain fog
- Poor sleep
- Postural changes such as rounding of the shoulder and curvature in the neck
Although having some of these side effects can put a damper on things, remember that positive changes—however small—can make a big difference.
Stretch That Neck
Chin Tucks—Place 2 fingers on your chin and gently tuck your chin in and retract your head backward and hold this position for 5 seconds. Relax and let your neck come forward. Repeat 10 more times. This exercise will activate and strengthen the front of the neck muscles.
Neck Flexion—Tuck back your chin using two fingers. Place your other hand on the back of your head and apply a gentle force down as you pull your head towards your chest. Once you feel a stretch at the back of your neck, hold the position for 20 seconds and repeat 3 times.
Doorway Stretch—Place your elbows and hands in line with a door frame and step through the door slowly, feeling a stretch in your chest and shoulders. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds and repeat 3 times.
2 – Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome has a direct effect on your hands and wrists when you spend hours at the keyboard. Symptoms include tingling, numbness, and pain. As soon as you start feeling pain in your wrist, be sure to adjust your ergonomics accordingly. Ensure your wrists are not bent while typing and use a wrist pad if needed to support your wrists.
Here are a few examples of mobility exercises and stretches you can add to your stretching routine:
Wrist Rotations—Clasp your hands together and wrap your fingers together, then move your wrists around in every possible direction. Any position that feels a little tight or painful, hold that position for a few seconds. Try completing this exercise many times during your day.
Prayer hands—Stand up and place your hands together in front of you, as if in a prayer stand. Press your hands together and lower them, keeping your fingers in an upward position. Go as far as you can. Try counting to 20-30 seconds. You should feel a bit of tension as you get deeper into this position. When at the bottom position, point your hands with fingertips in a downward position, keeping your hands together. Then come back into your first prayer hand position.
Static Holds—Pull your wrist back into extension and/or flexion by pressing the fingers upwards and then pressing them downwards. Hold these positions for at least 20-30 seconds.
3 – Dry Eyes
Staring at screens all day can lead to dry eyes, fatigue, and headaches. To help combat this, make sure to blink often and take breaks from staring at screens every 20 minutes or so.
4 – Over Exposure To Bluelight (at the wrong time)
The blue light emitted from screens can suppress the production of melatonin, the hormone that makes us feel sleepy. This can lead to difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep throughout the night. Blue light is not all bad and we do need it during the day, especially in the morning to set our circadian cycle.
Try some of these tips to get a restful sleep:
- Avoid technology 2-3 hours before bedtime—Try reading a book or doing something other than watching TV or working on your computer.
- Stick to a sleep schedule—Going to bed at the same time each day, even on weekends, will set your internal clock and get your body ready for bed. It is recommended that healthy adults should sleep for at least 7 hours.
- Pay attention to what you consume during your last meal of the day—Eating too late at night can keep you awake while your body is busy digesting. Your last coffee of the day should be consumed before 2 pm to ensure caffeine is not affecting your sleep.
- Create a restful environment—Make sure you have a quiet, cool room to relax and fall asleep peacefully without any interruptions. Some people enjoy using earplugs to block off the sound or even incorporating background noise to create an environment that suits their needs. Also try calming activities before bedtime, such as taking a bath or even meditating.
- Enjoy an afternoon power nap—Limit them to no more than 30 minutes and avoid napping late in the day to avoid interrupting your sleep.
- Get your body in motion—Include regular physical activities to promote better sleep. Take your exercise outside and enjoy the fresh air.
5 – Anxiety And Depression
Social media be a great way to stay connected with friends and family, but it can also trigger anxiety and depression in some people. If you find that social media is causing you distress, limit your use or take a break from it altogether. Stress management might be helpful. Make a point of becoming organized, set priorities, and delegate tasks. Meditation is a great way to ease anxiety.
If technology is getting the best of you, it’s important to be aware of the ways it can also strain your health. By taking steps to reduce your screen time and adopt can healthy technology habits, you can help protect your physical and mental health.
At Santé and Wellness Center, we can help address misalignment of the spine to help mitigate most of the signs mentioned above.
The best way to assess how technology is affecting your health is to book an appointment with us today, and we’ll help you get to the root cause and provide natural soultions personalized for your body
Yours in health!