If you’re like me you, aside from your computer, you probably use at least one or two other electronic gadgets for work or personal use. Mine includes a laptop and smartphone. They are wonderful devices that make our lives easier (or so we think!) but they are anything but easy on our bodies.
Think about the last time you used your laptop, smartphone or tablet. Did you pay attention to your posture? Probably not. If a picture was taken, you’d probably see yourself with your shoulders hunched over, head and neck flexed down, and wrists and hands twisted, contorted to fit the device. This type of posture, assumed for minutes to hours each day is not healthy for one’s body.
The side effects of using these devices are many. They include eye strain, neck/upper back pain, tendinitis, carpal tunnel, lower back pain, to name just a few.
Repeated actions and poor posture leads to excessive strain on the muscles, tendons and joints which in turn causes pain.
These devices are not “ergonomic” in any way, shape or form
LAPTOP – The keyboard and the monitor are connected. If the monitor is at the right height, the keyboard certainly isn’t and vice versa. A person is always sacrificing his/her body when using a laptop unless additional items are utilized to prevent this. Devices which solve this problem include using a docking station and having a separate monitor, keyboard and mouse. Another option is to use the laptop as a monitor and then use a separate keyboard and mouse. Obviously, this isn’t possible or practical is one is using this in the airport or while sitting on the couch at home. In this case, the only way to reduce the pain is to keep the total amount of usage time to a minimum.
TABLET – The monitor and keyboard are one and the same. Prolonged typing on a tablet is not advised since the pressure of the fingers against the tablet can cause soreness. It is also much worse for the neck since one has to bend the head/neck down to view the screen. For this reason, tablets should be used for short periods at one time.
TEXTING – Our poor thumbs were never intended to text several times/minutes per day. People who text frequently are at risk for DeQuervain’s tendinitis in which the tendon in the thumb becomes very painful making it difficult to hold onto anything.
Casa Verde Design
The other safety concern with texting is obviously related to driving and walking. If a person is texting while doing these activities, s/he is setting themselves and/or others up for injury.
If you’re experiencing aches and pains you may want to first consider your gadgets and how you use them as the source. This not only includes pain in your muscles and joints but also eye strain and headaches. The repetitive and sustained use of these gadgets can certainly cause pain. If you can’t determine the source, consider consulting an ergonomics expert. H/she will be able to determine the root cause and find practical solutions to take away your pain at work and home.
The best advice I can give anyone when it comes to using gadgets is “take a break”. These devices are not meant for prolonged use. So by a little taking break you’ll be doing your body and mind a favor.
*** Jill Kelby, PT, CEA is a regular guest on TCDC