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Prolonged Computer Use Can Result In Health Issues

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Reading this article right can improve productivity.
Reading this article the wrong way can be unhealthy.
Sitting has popularized at almost the same rate as our technological advancements.  From the dawn of TV to our modern computer-era, sitting has become a fundamental part of our daily lives.  Unfortunately, sitting for long periods of times can lead to bad posture and other health issues.  TV was the initial culprit, as it had people sitting for hours watching shows and movies. Computer usage was thought to be different as it required more activity from your upper body. However, doctors are finding that computer usage actually shares similar health hazards as watching TV – sometimes even worse.
Maintain Good Posture
Maintaining good posture while sitting is the most effective way of preventing injury. Bad posture can cause strains and pain in your back, neck, legs and arms. Prolonged computer usage can lead to weight gain and can cut off blood flow to your limbs, leading to muscle degeneration and weakening of the joints. Combining the stress these sitting positions put on your body can result in serious injury.
To get rid of the pain from prolonged computer usage, it’s important to start building healthy habits, starting with your posture.  The image below demonstrates just the right angles you should be following when sitting at your computer.
Proper sitting ratios
You may want to consider re-positioning the height of your computer to achieve this pose. You may notice that, in this position, you cannot see the keyboard and screen simultaneously. In order to ensure that you do not develop chronic pain or health issues, you must learn proper posture.  If you are already experiencing pain, consult a physical therapist for a personalized treatment plan.
The standing desk is also great for posture and can also help prevent weight gain and encourage weight loss. Standing desks have the added bonus of changing your eating habits. Many people eat food while sitting at the computer, which is harder to do while standing up. This forces you to leave your desk and dedicate your attention to your food.
Periodically Stretch
Human bodies are not designed to sit for long periods of time.  You can counterbalance the effects of sitting by getting up for quick walks or completing stretches that increase bloodflow to your body.  The Environmental Health & Safety Department of the University of California, Santa Cruz recommends these stretches and many more when facing pain from prolonged computer usage.
A hand stretch involving the straightening of the hand. Bend your fingers at the knuckles for another great stretch. Holding each stretch for about 10 seconds can relieve tension in your hands.
Interlace your fingers behind your head and keep your back completely straight. Now slowly pull your shoulder blades towards each other to release tension in your upper back. Hold this for about 10 seconds.
Slowly move your head to stretch different areas of the neck. While your back is completely straight, pivot your head and look to the left, then to the right. Then tilt your head left, then down right (like in the image above). Then finally look down, then look up. Hold these for 5-10 seconds to relieve neck tension.
Interlace your fingers and straighten your arms with your palms facing away from you.  Hold this for 10 seconds.  Then bring your hands, in the same position, up above your head,  Hold this for about 15 seconds.  These exercises will relieve tension in your arms and shoulder blades.
For more of these exercises, visit the University of California’s article here.
Other Issues
Building bad habits can lead to health issues regarding your back, hands and heart.  A common and serious injury from computer use is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. The cramping of wrist muscles is not just due to overuse. The repetitive hand motions of typing, even if you are not trained at typing, can cause Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
Before Carpal Tunnel Syndrome causes pain, you should slow down your repetitive wrist motions. Stretching your wrists in a circular motion while holding your arms in a T-position can relieve the strain put on them. For post-pain treatment, it is recommended to go to a physical therapist for help on conditioning your hand to restore its function and relieve pain.
If you want to learn about how to actively correct your posture while at the computer or in everyday life, visit our website at www.moriartypt.com or call us at 845.454.4137.
Owned by doctors and run by doctors, Moriarty Physical Therapy has been Dutchess County’s leader in physical therapy and sports rehabilitation for over 40 years with offices in Poughkeepsie, NY and a brand new office in Lagrange, NY.
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