The Computer Hunch
Americans spend six to nine hours a day in front of a digital device. It is becoming increasing clear that more time spent working, communicating, playing, and interfacing with computers and phones has its consequences. Prolonged sitting (at a computer, at home, in a car, etc) increases the likelihood of developing painful holding patterns that cause Repetitive Strain Injuries. Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSI) describe musculoskeletal pain related to the repetitive actions, behaviors, or habits, such as the pain that develops from poor posture while sitting at a desk, or from repeatedly preforming tasks like typing and clicking a mouse. One study on office workers found that 58% had eye strain, 45% had shoulder pain, 43% had back pain, 35% had arm pain, and 30% had neck and wrist pain (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17599795).
Increasingly more studies are being conducted demonstrating the powerful link between computer use, posture while at work, office ergonomics, sedentary life and chronic musculoskeletal pain. If you or your clients experience tenderness, stiffness, cramping, or pain in the neck, shoulders, arm, wrist, and back—especially after spending time at a computer or digital device—you may be experiencing the symptoms of a Repetitive Strain Injury. RSI can be serious, painful and debilitating but it can be prevented, circumvented, and even rehabilitated. There is hope!
One of the most common computer related postures is the Computer Hunch. Clinically known as excessive thoracic kyphosis often involves rearward curving of your thoracic spine, forward drawn head, rounded shoulders. The gradual creep into the computer hunch has its deleterious effects on the body and mind. Some symptoms to be aware of include headaches, general pain and limited function in the neck and upper back, nerve impingement, and reduced blood flow to the upper body and head, breathing problems, and even gastrointestinal upsets and increased mental stress.
Do you have the Computer Hunch??
Standing sideways in a mirror, place a finger of one hand on your sternal notch
Then put your finger of your other hand on T1
Now, looking towards the mirror and/or feel for the relationship of your front finger to your rear finger. If the finger on the front of you body is lower than the one on the back, your spine is rounding forward.
To counteract the hunch, simply strengthen the muscles in the upper back and stretch the muscles in the chest. Additionally, adjustments to a work space can reduce our tendency to hunch over the computer; consider moving the computer screen either at eye level or slightly lower, adjust your chair so that your feet rest flat on the floor, or use a footstool, use an ergonomic chair, specially designed to help your spine hold its natural curve while sitting, every 30-60 minutes take a short break, go for a walk, or do stretching exercises at your desk, and consider a standing work station.