This is the sixth in a 7-part series in why you might consider doing a Technology Detox (a “Techtox”). I hope it gets you thinking about your use of technology and how it may be impacting your health and well-being.
Do You Experience Frequent Aches & Pains?
If you frequently experience aches and pains around your neck and shoulder areas, you could be suffering from a relatively new condition: text neck.
As we look down at our devices, the angle of our neck can be anywhere from 0-60 degrees; as the degree increases, so does the force of gravity upon our cervical spines—from 10-12 lbs. with a 0 degree angle (i.e. “good posture”) to a whopping 60 lbs. with a more typical phone checking posture (as reported by the Chief of Spine Surgery at New York Spine Surgery & Rehabilitation Center in 2014).
Whether on a mobile device or sitting/standing at a computer workstation, returning to this posture frequently throughout our days can also create forward head posture, and/or a curvature of our thoracic spine (upper back) known as kyphosis or dowager’s hump, even in relatively young folks. Each of these postural conditions leads to a whole host of health problems, from headaches/migraines, to TMJ, to arthritis, to insomnia. (Aside: Huffington states that “when we’re sleep deprived, our pain tolerance is decreased, so normally tolerable levels of pain can feel much more intense.” (p.112))
Our eyes are also having a hard time: from eye strain to dry eyes, Dr. Richard Shugarman reminds us that we: “don’t always realize ocular discomfort can be a result of too much technology.” Computer vision syndrome is another label for these kinds of eye conditions resulting from too much focusing and refocusing on our various screens without adequate breaks.
As if that weren’t enough, “more than 80% of people using computers for more than 4 hours complain of back pain,” particularly in the lumbar (lower) back. Even folks with “standing desks” don’t necessarily escape pain from working at computers; good standing posture can be hard to maintain, especially given habitual ways of standing—e.g. leaning more on one leg than the other.
The list of aches, pains, new syndromes and conditions from overuse of technology (both devices and workstations) goes on and on. If you’re suffering from chronic pain and use technology a lot, it might be worth exploring whether some relief is possible with a break.
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Learn how to do a TechTox!