While technology creates many new possibilities for entertainment, connecting with others and getting work done, it also spawns new health problems. Ten years ago, nobody had “text neck.” Now many people are reaping the unwanted musculoskeletal consequences of tech overuse.
Instead of holding mobile devices straight out in front of their faces to maintain good posture, most people hold their devices close to their bodies, dropping their heads to see what’s on the screen. Since the average head weighs 10 pounds, constantly dropping it forward hunches your shoulders, inflames tissue in your neck and strains your spine. This technologically induced neck problem is often referred to as “text neck.” Text neck is on the rise with kids and young adults, traditionally an age group that had few spinal problems.
How do you avoid this forward-head posture? Cultivate body awareness. Roll your shoulders back and down. Notice if your head juts forward from your chest. If so, slide it back so your ears are over your shoulders. Check your posture frequently to prevent bad habits from sneaking back into your life. Mobile apps can alert you if your chin slips to an angle that puts you at risk for text neck.
Sitting at the computer for long periods of time causes all the problems of text neck and then some. In addition to a hunched back, you could also be gaining weight, tightening lower body muscles and even shaving years off your life. Many recent scientific studies link a sedentary life to an earlier death. Insufficient physical activity kills about 3.2 million people per year, according to the World Health Organization. This makes it a leading risk factor for mortality.
But most people can’t just quit their desk jobs. Instead, set a timer to remind you to take a two-minute walk every hour. Check your posture throughout the work day. If possible, get a standing desk or one that adjusts between sitting and standing so you can decrease your number of seated hours.
People usually blink their eyes about 20 times per minute. Unless they’re sitting at a computer, which drastically reduces blink rate to once or twice each minute. Infrequent blinking can cause your eyes to dry out. What’s the solution? Take more breaks, blink deliberately every so often or use lubricant-only eye drops.
Technology affects everybody’s health. If you’re suffering from back or neck pain, headaches or eye strain, talk to your chiropractic doctor. In addition to adjusting your spine, a chiropractor can advise you on ergonomic work stations and exercises to decrease your pain and prevent future problems.