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Technology- Efficient or evolutionary speed bump?

As Nick Cowan featured in Tesco Living providing expert advice,

http://www.tescoliving.com/health-and-wellbeing/your-health/2014/june/is-your-screen-time-affecting-your-health

here is a more detailed approach to this growing topic.

 

The human body is designed to move, however through evolving we have invented the means to be more efficient so that we don’t have to move as much. Technology, in the shape of computers and all the ever-shrinking forms have lead us to become more sedentary and ultimately caused great impairments to our posture.

 

When seated our core muscles largely switch off and as they are not required for use they become weaker and therefore joints in our lower back get compressed and as time progresses our upper back and neck becomes more rounded and we adopt the classic slumped/slouched posture.

 

Specific conditions can arise from this impaired position:

-Upper and lower back joint dysfunction

-Chronic degenerative disc disease

-Tension headaches

-Chronic rotator cuff injuries

-Tendinitis

-Carpal tunnel syndrome

-Repetitve strain injuries (Arising from small continuous movements of the hand or upper limb e.g trackpad, smartphone, tablet or games console)

 

 

“Technology and our systemic health.”

 

Indoor lighting.

Vitamin D deficiency is a growing problem the more sedentary we have become. A lack of time spent outdoors and under unnatural office lighting- Vitamin D is important in the role of promoting calcium absorption for healthy bones.

 

 

Office air conditioners.

Often due to building regulations and supposed health and safety rules, windows aren’t opened and circulating air is left in its place. This is a prime breeding ground for pathogens ultimately leading to a lowered immune system and therefore a reduced ability to heal amongst other things, the aching back you get from being stuck in the office in the first place!

 

Sleep patterns:

An over-worked brain via visual and audio stimulation by watching tv, playing a computer game or sending another stressed work email disturbs our ability to settle into an optimal sleep state. Add to this we then wake up to an alarm clock disturbing the natural pattern of our body’s built in circadian rhythm.

Sleep is vital for us to restore body function so a less than optimum sleep state leads to impaired immune function and therefore an inability to heal the problems we are developing during the working day.

 

 

“Solutions for technology-induced body pain”

 

The reality is that technology is very useful so when used sensibly we can avoid problems arising. Prevention is better than a cure (See later for tips and exercises) However it is somewhat out of our hands as to how little or much we use it if we are governed by the nature of our work and social life so if pain or injury does occur the most sensible solution is to seek advice from a professional physical therapist to assess the route of the problem so that treatment and a long term positive goal can be reached.

 

 

 

TIPS:

 Ergonomics. Ensure when you are sitting your lower back is well supported and the height of the chair and desk allow your eye level to be in line with the screen in front of you.

When using a laptop or tablet and you aren’t on the move turn it into a desktop by raising the screen onto a platform and attaching a separate keyboard if possible so to sit more upright in front of it.

 

Break the seated cycle. Get up and get moving even for a few minutes. Walking promotes good blood flow, joint lubrication and lymphatic drainage (the system to remove unwanted toxins)

Small exercises at the desk if your boss has chained you there:

shoulder and neck roles.

knee hugs,

heel raises.

 

If using a phone a lot– get hands free! Avoid the dreaded crooked neck.

 

Always keep hydrated as chronic dehydration leads to impaired healing for our muscles and joints.

 

Take a break and get outside for some fresh air and sunlight to increase vit d absorption.

 

Incorporate exercise into your life– Walk a bit more to work, or take the stairs rather than the lift. Better yet get strong and healthy away from work through a variety of exercise and sporting endeavors. Pilates and yoga are excellent disciplines to improve body balance strength and posture.

 

Eat well. Maintaining your blood sugar level will not only improve your powers of concentration but also limit your physical decline into a poor posture and therefore injury.

 

Sleep well. Reduce intake of stimulants like caffeine at least an hour before bed time and limit the levels of visual input from computers, tv’s and games consoles so to be ready for rest.

 

 

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