No longer is the ever-growing trend of smartphones, tablets, and computers popular solely with the younger generations. People of all ages are now using all the latest and greatest tools; however, the pain that can arise from overusing these devices is nothing new. If you find yourself playing Pokémon-Go on your iPhone for too long, spending hours reading on your Kindle, or replying to numerous emails on your iPad; you run the risk of placing your upper body in some serious pain. Fortunately, if you find your shoulders, neck, and head in pain from using your device for too long, there is an easy fix! Let’s take a look at how our devices can place strain on our bodies and then provide some solutions for correcting the problem.
The Pathology of Too Much ‘Words With Friends’
Let’s start by looking at the anatomy of our upper bodies. Our shoulders are comprised of a number of bones (scapula, clavicle, and upper humerus) that is surrounded by thick and heavy tendons, ligaments, and muscles. Some of these muscles connect with the neck (cervical spine) which is composed of 7 bones, stacked on top of one another (vertebras) that goes all the way up into the back of our heads. Here too, tendons, ligaments, and muscles surrounding the vertebra connect to the bones of the head (occiput). Numerous studies have shown that holding a computer device too low in your lap can force the vertebrae, and the surrounding muscles, to bend forward too much. This may result in shoulder, neck, or head strain to the muscles, nerves, tendons, ligaments, and spinal discs. Fortunately, studies have concluded that when study participants viewed a tablet that was on a table or propped at an angle, there was a reduction in their neck strain and impending pain.
Practical Suggestions for Each Device
Now that we got all the big language out of the way, let’s get into some practical situations with each of your devices providing some tips on how to correct from overstraining your upper body.
- We have to put in the obligatory suggestions to never text and drive. This should go without saying when using any device.
- Sit up straight and have your arms on a table when using a smart phone.
- If you find yourself straining your vision, get a cheap pair of readers. This will keep you from bending your neck forward towards your phone.
- Get a case large enough where you are comfortably able to grip the phone thus not straining your arms and hands.
- Get a tablet case that allows you to prop your tablet in an upright position.
- Again, force yourself to sit up straight. You should almost be looking straightforward towards your tablet for the best position.
- Take short breaks.
- Take the time to shift your weight, stretch your upper body, or simply stand up for a couple of seconds to prevents possible stiffness and pain.
Laptops or Desktop Computers
- Make sure to sit up straight where you’re almost looking at your computer monitor at eye-level.
- Keep shoulders relaxed and elbows close to your body
- Keep hands, wrists, forearms and thighs parallel to the floor
- Avoid placing your laptop in your lap. Yes, ironic, isn’t it?
- Invest in a good ergonomic chair. These types of chairs almost force you to keep a proper position thus covering all of the steps above.
You most likely picked up on a pattern between these tips. Proper posture is important regardless of the device you’re using where it simply comes down to adjusting the angle of your head and neck. We must stress that if your pain becomes more than just an irritant, please consult your doctor. The last thing you need is an injury that keeps you from doing your job or hobby on any of these devices.
What kind of device do you use and did any of these tips help in relieving any associated pain? Let us know!
Tags: chronic pain, pain management, headache, neck pain, back pain, smartphones, tablets, computers, laptops