We love their gadgets. They provide us with instant information on virtually any subject, update us on weather and news, and help keep us organized in the beyond-busy world we inhabit. But they can also make us a little too sedentary, isolate us and shorten our attention spans. Given the realities of our tech-driven society, it seems perfectly logical to wonder, how is technology hurting our bodies?
Hunching over your laptop or smart phone all day isn’t likely to be doing your back any favors. A study published in Surgical Technology International’s 25th edition found that when you tilt your head 60 degrees to look at your smart phone, you’re actually putting the equivalent of 60 lbs. of pressure on your neck.
Add in the fact that so many of us sit at desks all day hunching over a computer, and you begin to see the toll technology can take on our spines. To help prevent the problem, take frequent breaks to stretch and move around for a few minutes. Instead of calling your co-worker, walk over to their desk. If possible, try incorporating a standing desk into your daily routine.
Don’t forget, your eyes are also muscles that can be strained due to overuse. Staring at an electronic screen all day can lead to Computer Vision Syndrome, also known as Digital Eyestrain. The symptoms of this technology-driven vision problem include eyestrain, headaches, blurred vision, and dry eyes.
The American Optometric Association recommends following the 20-20-20 rule: take a break every 20 minutes to look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds to alleviate any additional pressure you’re putting on your eyes.
Like any commonly handled device, our phones are crawling with germs, given the fact that we take them with us everywhere we go, including the bathroom. Germs are easily transferred to other parts of the body, including our face when we use our phones to make calls.
The cure? Go hands-free whenever you can and make it a habit to clean and disinfect your phone every day. Going hands free can also possibly help prevent any neck pain you might feel from cradling your phone between your neck and ear.
Cell Phone Elbow
You’ve heard of tennis elbow, but now it appears that cell phone elbow is a condition as well. Cell Phone Elbow is caused by bending your elbows too tightly for too long while holding your phone, and can be damaging to an essential nerve. A related condition called “selfie elbow” has also made the news. The fix might be as easy as getting yourself a “selfie stick,” switching arms every other time you take a selfie, or just cutting back on selfies!
“Text Claw” and “Blackberry Thumb”
All the texting we do is causing and aggravating tendonitis in our fingers and thumbs. It’s a repetitive-motion affliction that causes muscle strain and can also cause forearm and wrist pain.
While technology has come a long way and undoubtedly had a profound effect on how we live our everyday lives, it’s also important to regularly take some downtime from technology and connect with people face-to-face, move our bodies more, and “unplug.”