Insta-ache or Snapped Back?
It doesn’t seem to matter where you are or what you are doing in this day and age, possibly even right this very second for you, there will be someone bending forward over a smartphone, on social media, gaming, texting, emailing, or web surfing. We are seeing more and more issues and injuries starting to emerge from the static and repetitive nature of our technological addictions, which will only continue to increase given the insideous onset nature of many of the issues.
Let’s have a quick look at a few of the problem areas & some lilttle things you can do to avoid them becoming an issue.
The way we hold an often large phone for extended periods can cause us to statically load muscles in our hands and wrists. This can cause small tightness or cramp in the short term, but static muscle loading can often contribute to soft tissue injuries. Static activity cause fatigue in the muscles and tendons. During the static position of the muscles blood supply is restricted, therefore restricting the supply of nutrients and oxygen and the removal of waste products such as lactic acid. The longer or more frequent the static loading occurs the greater risk of injury. The constant muscle tension can lead to swelling and pressure on nearby nerves and static loading with high forces can lead to tears in the muscle tissue.
The other issue that can aris in the hands is from the repetitive motions of texting and typing, which can lead to general hand pain if you're already prone to arthritis.
Using your thumbs too much to text can cause strain or overuse injuries of the tendons that run from the wrist to the thumb (a condition called De Quervain's tenosynovitis). Symptoms include pain over the thumb side of the wrist, which can appear gradually or suddenly and move up the forearm.
Hand numbness & tingling
Typing on a laptop or desktop keyboard has often been associated as a cause of carpal tunnel syndrome—a condition in which the median nerve is compressed as it passes through a small area at the wrist known as the carpal tunnel. Although it is NOT actually a direct cause of the condition, typing may bring out some very similar symptoms, such as pain, tingling, and numbness in the thumb, index finger, middle finger, and inner half of the ring finger.
Leaning too much on your elbows may worsen cubital tunnel syndrome, in which the ulnar nerve is compressed where it passes through tissue near the elbow called the cubital tunnel. Symptoms include pain, numbness, or tingling in the ring or little finger.
Neck & back pain
Our modern tendency to be constnatly looking down at a gadget not up at a person can be the cause of neck and back pain.
It cause muscles, ligaments, and tendons in your neck and upper back to stretch for long periods of time which will lead to pain and discofmrot. The good news is that this type of pain is generally temporary and won't cause permanent back or neck problems, but it's uncomfortable, and it can also irritate the occipital nerve where the spine connects to the base of the skull, which can cause headaches.
Hand & wrist fixes
If you’re feeling a little sore or tight, then the first treatment for hand or wrist conditions starts with taking a break from the offending activity. Following that you might consider splinting; short-term use of over-the-counter painkillers, such as ibuprofen, and exercises to stretch the tendons.
You'll also have to modify the way you use electronic devices. If texting with your thumbs causes pain, you may need to use other fingers to text, or use a stylus.
To ease carpal tunnel pain, set up your workstation so that your forearms are parallel to the floor, your wrists are straight and in line with your forearms, and your elbows are relaxed and bent at a 90-degree angle at your waist.
Using a vertical mouse might be an option as it places the hand in a less stressful position by keeping the mouse in front of you, not to the side.
Back & neck fixes
To relieve back and neck pain, adjust your posture when using a device. An easy indiciator is to try and keep your gaze parallel to the floor as opposed to downward. Good ergonomic setup is improtant, making sure your computer monitor is level with your eyes. Try and adopt the same approach with handheld devices where possible.
Like any activity we do that requires a sustained posture or repetitive process, take frequent breaks, and pay attention to discomfort. If you feel like you’re getting a stiff neck, adjust your position, if your hands or wrists are feeling tight, rest and stretch.
One of the best ways to prevent pain in your back and maintain good posture is by exercising and strengthening your core muscles, as they are the number one support for your spine.
The other is too try and maintain a level of physical fitness. So many benefits to your overall health and wellbeing, one of which is that you'll be less likely to develop neck or back pain.
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