Almost all of us have a bad habit of working or surfing long hours on our laptops sitting on my couch at home. While working this way is convenient, it usually results in a bad case of “tech pain.” By the end of the day we usually have a head and neck ache from the looking down for too long.
Using computers and technology at work, school, and home is becoming increasingly more commonplace. And with that, there has also been a significant rise in reported aches, pains, and even serious health issues associated with the use of technology.
“Tech pains” are almost unavoidable in our busy, tech-driven lives, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are a few of the most common tech pains, along with some tips for avoiding them…
Neck pain from looking down at your phone
Problem: Dropping your head down to look at your phone or tablet can take a toll on your neck over time, potentially causing lasting neck and back issues.
Solution: Instead of dropping your head down to text, try bringing your phone or tablet up to the level of your shoulder. Then you can look at your screen by lowering just your eyes instead of your whole head.
Waking up in the night due to phone alerts
Problem: Pings or vibrations from emails or alerts coming through in the middle of the night can really disrupt your sleep.
Solution: For iPhone users, you can set your phone to “Do Not Disturb” mode when you get in bed, so that you won’t be disrupted by your phone going off while you’re sleeping. If you’re worried about missing a call in an emergency, you can go into your settings and specify which contacts you’ll still receive alerts from, even when you’re in “Do Not Disturb” mode. For Android users, there’s a very similar option under Settings called “Interruptions” or “Blocking mode”, depending on which software you have installed.
Back pain from slouching at your computer
Problem: Computer use is commonly cited amongst the top causes of back pain in both men and women. Due to advances in computer technology, more and more people spend most of their days sitting at their computer, most likely with little thought about how they are sitting. Having bad posture while sitting at your computer can cause significant issues in your neck and back.
Solution: Practice these basic tips for good posture — sit up straight, keep your feet flat on the floor, and look straight ahead. If your computer monitor is too low for you to see it looking straight ahead, there are tons of great options out there for monitor stands (some even have extra USB ports or other handy features.)
Problems: It might not be an official medical diagnosis, but anyone who’s spent enough time on a cell phone can likely attest to feelings of soreness and cramping in the fingers, wrist and forearm after too much tech use. Any sort of fine motor activity can lead to pain in the tendons or muscles.
Solution: Using heat is something anyone can do at home, whether it’s with a hot towel or a hot pad. In cases of chronic tendinitis, where the pain is experienced for longer than a week for an extended period of time, heat can help to relax the muscles, allowing for better stretching.
A good rule of thumb to help alleviate all kinds of “tech pain” is to remember to take breaks. During your brief tech breaks, you should stretch and roll out your head, neck, shoulders, and back, and perhaps get up from your seat and walk around a bit (even if it’s just to the water fountain.)
Taking a few quick stretch breaks during the day will go a long ways towards helping you avoid the aches and pains that technology can cause.