These days, digital gadgets dominate our lives: smartphones, smart watches, tablets and laptops. An ever-increasing number of people tap into at least one of these gadgets daily. Many use three or four.
These gadgets have revolutionized the way we work. Idle time can now be productive, alone time can be shared with others and consumer decisions can be made more quickly with all necessary information at our fingertips.
Unfortunately, this portability and convenience comes at a price. Shrinking gadgets prompt poorer body positions, and easy access results in increased time spent gadgeting. These two factors work against our physical selves, leading to escalating pain and injury.
Welcome to the Tech Trap
If you use gadgets for more than a few hours a day, you could be at risk. The effects are also cumulative; start young, and the physical loads will build up. String together years of use and your injury threshold gets lower.
The most frequent victim of the Tech Trap is the spine. The spine is a complex structure with amazing strength and an important function to perform, yet we continue to abuse it through our overuse of gadgets.
The lower back
The discs or spinal cushions in our lower back burst and tear because we slump in our chairs for hours to view our low laptop screens. This can lead to exquisite pain, leg weakness and spinal surgery simply from sitting in a bad position for too long.
The mid back
The joints in our middle back between our shoulder blades get so used to hunching over a touch screen that they ‘rust’. They stiffen to the point where normal movement is impossible and a constant ache or sharp stabbing pain is a permanent companion simply from not moving enough.
The discs in our neck distend and swell, causing pinching nerves and deadening our arms simply because we squint at our smart phone screen so often to send messages, read maps and update our status.
One big habit that can help our body to prevent these spinal injuries is consistent strength training, and maintaining ideal general fitness, however the laptop life can often be tiring and all consuming, meaning important fitness habits can be neglected.
By falling victim to the Tech Trap, terrible injury can be imminent, yet a paradox exists. These injuries are so easily avoided. Simple changes to our environment, habits and exercise patterns can dramatically decrease our chance of ending up in pain.
The effort required to decrease the load on our spine pales in comparison to the potential disability from uncontested gadget use. You need to be aware if you are at risk, so you can take steps to insure against the risks.