In today’s technologically advanced world, it’s easy to spend the entire day looking at and/or using our electronic devices. Between checking in on social media during the morning commute to using the computer for your daily work routine, it’s easy to spend the entire day locked into a screen. But what effects does it really have on your body?
The Link Between Posture and Technology
Simply watching people in the office can give you a good idea of how people sit while using their electronic devices. Hunched over, neck bent down, shoulders slumped is how the average person uses their gadgets in a doctor’s office waiting room. In the office, computer users are often leaning against desks, neck pushed forward to see what’s on the screen with their mouse hand scrunched up on the side. Unfortunately, the human body wasn’t designed to sit in this contorted way and it can have serious side effects.
The biggest problem with what we’ll call “technology posture” is the position of your head. When evenly balanced over your shoulders, the human head on average weighs between 10 and 12 lbs. But with just a 15 degree tilt forward, the weight on the spine spikes up to 27 lbs. Another 15 degrees forward and it weighs 40 pounds on the spine, and at 60 degrees (where the chin is nearly touching the chest) this weight goes all the way up to 60 pounds. The difference in the weight alone is enough to make you question your posture. But it goes farther than that.
Extended excess weight on the upper spine can cause lower spine collapse and cause low back pain. Low back pain can cause knee pain, which can lead to referred ankle pain. And you can easily see how quickly the damage is done.
Change Your Posture, Decrease Your Pain
There are many ways in which you can actively prevent the kind of crippling damage poor “technology posture” can cause. When it comes to setting up your office, you can elevate your monitor so that the top of the screen is at eye level. Choose a chair height that allows your feet to be firmly planted on the floor. Your desk should allow your forearms to be parallel to the floor when your shoulders are relaxed.
When using a mobile device, avoid slouching over and instead use your arm muscles to hold your phone in front of your face. Keep your phone at eye level and when talking on the phone, avoid balancing your phone between your shoulder and your ear at all costs. Keep your head on straight, literally, and you’ll find that you can easily mitigate the effects of technology on your posture.
There are also ways to reverse the effects of long term bad posture such as stretching exercises. Getting up from your sitting position every 30 minutes and going for a bit of a walk and stretching out your limbs can also be incredibly beneficial. And for a real treat try rolling your shoulders forward a few times and then back and rolling your head first in one direction and then in the opposite.
For relief from chronic back pain, talk to your orthopaedic specialist about your treatment options.