This week is Chiropractic Awareness Week, and the theme this year is the impact of technology on our spines.
New consumer research from the British Chiropractic Association (BCA) has revealed that computers are the top tech back pain trigger for people in the Southeast, with over a third (35%) of those surveyed having experienced back or neck pain after using their laptop or desktop computer.
Despite these figures, just 19% of people in the South East have either limited or stopped using their laptop due to concerns for their back and neck health or posture and that figure is 16% for desktop computer users.So today we wanted to share a few ways you can help protect your spine from the strain of technology and prolonged sitting
We all know how easy it is to become glued to our tech. Our devices have become an integral part of our lives, with many of us spending our days either looking down at our phones or stuck on laptops. However it’s important to think about the impact this is having on back and neck health, as well as our posture.
What we’re not saying is to stop using tech altogether – this obviously isn’t realistic in today’s world. However, it is important to think about limiting the amount of time you spend using it, and start building regular breaks into your day so you can give your spine a rest. Particularly when using laptop or desktop computers, if you’re working in an office it’s important that you don’t spend longer than 40 minutes sitting at your desk at one time.
The here are some top tips to help you “tech-proof” your spine:
- Sit up straight – When you are sat at your computer or laptop, it’s easy to forget your posture and lean towards your screen. To avoid developing back pain from sitting at your desk, set up your computer in a back friendly manner. The top of your screen should be at eye level, so use a stand or a ream of paper to elevate the screen to this height. Your bottom should be right to the back of your seat with your back and shoulders in contact with the back rest. Your arms should lie flat at desk level and your chair positioned so that your hips are slightly higher than your knees with your feet flat on the floor.
- On the move – Laptops and tablets are very convenient and flexible to use so it’s tempting to use them in situations where your body may be in an awkward posture position. You are less likely to notice any discomfort developing if you are concentrating on what you are doing. Try to think about how you’re sitting before using the device
- Head up – Looking down at your mobile phone, tablet or laptop leaves your neck unsupported and the weight of your head will put pressure on your neck and spine. To help keep neck and back pain away, try to hold your phone up in front of you when using it and limit your use of portable technology devices where you can. It is a good idea when using a mobile device to elevate your arms on a table as this will help you. Walking and tech use do not mix so try not to do this at all!
- Accessorise – If you are using a portable laptop, plug in a standard mouse and keyboard, which will encourage you to sit in a more ‘back-friendly’ position. You can then place your laptop on top of something (e.g. a shoebox) to raise the screen further. This “DIY docking station” won’t cost you more than a few pounds and could save a lot of pain and misery (and visits to your chiropractor!) in the future.
- Take control – Ideally, you should sit in a chair when playing video games with your back supported against the backrest and your feet on the floor. If standing, try to position your television screen at eye-level, so that you are not having to strain to look up or down regularly.
- Take a break – Our bodies are not designed to stay in one position for long periods of time so, whether working on your computer, scrolling through social media or playing your favourite video game, remember to stand up at least every 40 minutes and move around to keep your muscles active.
- Detox – We are becoming much more dependent on technology and taking a break from technology is likely to benefit both your mental and physical health. Use this spare time to get outside and exercise; your spine will thank you for it!
The BCA has created a programme of 3-minute exercises, https://chiropractic-uk.co.uk/straighten-up-uk/ , which can be slotted into your daily schedule to help improve posture and prevent back pain by promoting balance, strength and flexibility in the spine.
If you or a loved one are feeling and tension or discomfort in your spine when using devices, try these tips and see if they help. If that doesn’t resolve your problem, or are concerned with your posture, who not book in for a Free Spine Check at our Sevenoaks or Beckenham clinic?
Chiropractic Awareness Week 2017 – Give your back a break from your tech