I’m online a lot – for work (communications), for hobby time (blogging) and social media (phone). Over the past few years I’ve needed to actively take precautions against tech injuries like aching wrist, sore neck and back.
Recently I was working diligently during the day, multitasking between updating a website, writing a blog and replying to some emails. I dragged an item into Dropbox as part of a backup that I intended to run, only for my computer to freeze for thirty seconds, then shut down.
I took a deep breath, believing if I restarted my new laptop (only a few months old) that it would all simply reset. Over 45 minutes later I admitted defeat and called my tech services experts. The news was bad – I’d need a total reinstall and wouldn’t have my laptop back for a few days. *sob*
Then I went about doing something really stupid. Instead of accepting a loan option, I chose to work mostly from my phone, and calling in the odd favour from a colleague to do work that absolutely needed to be done on a computer.
I was rather proud of my efforts and how much I could actually utilise my phone for – emails, cloud based services, even photo editing! I love being independent (ask my parents; this trait drove them nuts!).
That evening though, my arm was so sore from the tips of my fingers to the back of my neck. The next day my tech injury was exasperated further, and I couldn’t type or text. My day of efficiency turned into a week of pain. All my fault, and I should have known better.
A longer term tech injury I am mindful of is a very uncomfortable neck pain that I get that starts at the side of my head (headache) and runs all the way down my neck and into my shoulder blade near the middle of my back. It happens if I sit in the wrong position or on an unsupported surface for too long looking at a screen and sometimes it’s really tough to get rid of.
We can live in harmony with our gadgets and avoid tech injuries, and the first step is being aware that we can end up in just as much strife over inappropriate posture and repetitive movements on phones, as we can by running about playing tennis or at the gym without knowing what we’re doing.
There’s a helpful blog by a sports therapy service provider in Brighton that I’ve discovered, which looks at topics like how stress can cause pain, why it’s important to keep an eye on your posture while at work, case studies and myth busters on health and wellbeing.
After years of working in front of screens, I now live by a few rules that save me pain:
- Seek advice on the right angle and height for your computer screen. This makes all the difference in avoiding unnecessary neck pain and wrist strain. It’s also a good idea to investigate whether you are using the right mouse, keyboard and sitting in an appropriate chair for your body type, height and type of work.
- Take breaks if you find yourself texting, editing, Instagramming or emailing for long periods of time on a smart phone or tablet.
- Remember to exercise and stretch regularly. Personally I find yoga is essential. Also the weight machines in the gym (especially those where you are working the muscles of your arms and back) are really helpful for balancing bad posture or sitting in front of a laptop for hours. I have had advice from professionals on this though, but personal trainers and yoga instructors are so accessible these days (on and offline), so no excuses for DIY in this area until you are properly advised.
- We have also been offered helpful advice advice from physiotherapists in the past – it’s amazing that something that has long ailed you can be rectified thanks to professional insight.
- Be mindful of your body – you know it best, so if something doesn’t feel right don’t let it go. Most tech injuries are preventable. Seek advice and don’t live with little aches – what a shame if you ignore it and it becomes a larger problem.
What’s your experience with tech injuries? Your stories, tips and experience is welcome, let us know on social media or in the comments below.