Image: http://cdn-media-1.lifehack.org/wp-content/files/2016/05/10092149/blogger-336371_1280.jpg
Posted on 03/08/2017 · Posted in The Joint News

Neck pain caused by modern device use is becoming increasingly common. We explore the measures that can be taken to prevent this pain and allow us keep up with our busy daily lives.

Written by Nathan Laios, Physiotherapist at The Joint Physio

 

Technology – Very few, if any, of us could live without it. The use of mobile smartphones, tablets, laptops etc. can take up hours of our day. And as these devices have become smaller and more portable, we see more and more people hunched over them.

At The Joint Physiotherapy we regularly see patients suffering from neck and upper back pain. Whilst a few cases are related to specific trauma or incidents, the vast majority are insidious in onset and worsened by sustained postures (see spine model 2).

It is well known that our postural habits can have a direct effect on various areas of the body, especially the neck. Common neck-related symptoms include:

  • neck, shoulders and upper back
  • arm pain
  • pins and needles, tingling and/or numbness in the arms/hands
  • headaches
  • ear and jaw pain
  • dizziness, blurred vision and nausea

How does modern technology affect our posture and predispose us to these issues? It’s all about the posture we assume when using it.

When you are next sitting on a train or in a waiting room, look around at others on their phones. Their lower and middle back will invariably be slumped with their shoulders rolled forward and chin protruding. The same happens when we use a tablet, laptop, desktop etc. It’s this chain of posture that overloads the neck at both its base and its upper attachment to the head.

It is important to implement the necessary changes needed to avoid sustained poor postures. Quite often we find that these issues begin from the pelvis when sitting. By sitting forward in a chair and allowing the pelvis to roll backward, we invariably slump through our upper back and overload the neck. Instead, sitting back in a chair with the pelvis tilted forwards will go a long way to preventing this. In most cases the use of a lumbar roll placed between the seat and lower back will facilitate this optimal pelvic position.

Similarly, the position of the device being used plays a huge role in what posture we will assume. For instance, a small laptop sat of your lap will only cause your head, neck and shoulders to fall forward towards the screen, this is not ideal. Sitting the laptop up on a table or stand will correct this. Sit/stand desks are also now commonly used with great effect.

Aside from your device set-up, there are some common exercises worth trying in between bouts of sitting to help unload spinal structures.

 

SHOULDER SHRUGS

Raise your shoulders up towards your ears.

Hold for a second and then release back down.

Repeat 10 times.

 

 

SHOULDER CIRCLES

Raise your shoulders up towards your ears.

Squeeze your shoulder blades together and roll your shoulders backwards.

Repeat 10 times.

 

 

CHIN TUCKS

Gently draw your chin straight back.

DO NOT just tilt your chin down into your chest!

Hold that position and relax your shoulders.

Gently draw the chin straight back further and hold.

Repeat 3-5 times.

 

In summary, technology is here to stay. Simple things can be done to avoid the common ailments associated with poor sitting. Aside from these however is general exercise. Keeping fit in which ever way you find comfortable and enjoyable is a powerful tool in preventing postural related conditions and maintaining general well being.