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Explaining Digital Disabilities

textDo you spend a lot of time in front of a computer? or phone? or device?  Then “text neck” “cellphone elbow’ or or thumb pain is liking something that you have experienced recently.

A recent article in the National Post (June 14) outlines – Whether typing, swiping or tapping, people are stressing an array of muscles, nerves and tendons. Movements that might seem minor can wreak havoc when done repeatedly with force, experts say, and such usage is likely to increase, especially among youth. By 2015, nearly two-thirds of American adults owned a smartphone, up from 35 percent in 2011, a Pew Research Center report found, and “smartphone ownership is especially high among younger Americans” at 85 percent.  With so many people using devices, the increase in muscle strains on our neck, arms and hands has been on the rise.   Read the full article here

What can be done?

According to this same article – Meanwhile, advice for digital device users: Limit screen time and take breaks. Close your eyes every 20 minutes or look to the distance to avoid vision problems. Gently stretch wrists and necks, and alter postures. Some pointers, however, resemble a ballet lesson: Keep shoulders relaxed and elbows close to your body, and your hands, wrists, forearms and thighs parallel.

Other suggestions – from Dr.Mercola.com

Intermittent movement (also called non-exercise activity) is beneficial for your posture because you avoid sitting hunched over for extended periods of time. As I’ve become increasingly aware of the importance of intermittent movement, I’ve assembled a variety of strategies to help you counter the ill effects of sitting.

My approach incorporates posture correction and core strengthening exercises, Dr. Vernikos’ recommendation to stand up frequently, and a variety of quick exercises you can do throughout the day. In terms of operating electronic devices with proper posture, practice looking down at your device with only your eyes, instead of bending your neck—and try holding your device up higher. If you wear glasses, make sure your prescription is current.

  • Stand up as much as possible. You might want to experiment with a stand-up desk. You certainly don’t need to stand all day long but you are likely far better off standing as your posture and your likelihood of movement tends to improve. If you cannot work standing up, make an effort to interrupt your sitting frequently throughout the day. Strive to get up around 35 times a day, evenly spaced throughout the day.
  • Walk more. Wear a fitness tracker, and set a goal of walking 7,000 to 10,000 steps each day, which is more than five miles. While you could probably walk this distance all at once, it’s best to spread it out evenly throughout the day, as much as your schedule will allow. I tend to walk 12,000-16,000 steps a day and concentrate most of that during my solar noon walk on the beach. Get in the habit of using the stairs and parking farther away from entrances.
  • Take 30- to 60-second exercise breaks. While Dr. Vernikos says that simply standing up and sitting back down may be enough to do the trick, you may want to do more. While you’re up, try adding a variety of different body movements when you stand up throughout the day. I’ve compiled a list of 30 intermittent movement videos to give you some ideas.
  • Foundation Training. I regularly do Foundation exercises developed by Dr. Eric Goodman, which address weakness and imbalance in your posterior chain of muscles. To learn more about this, I suggest listening to my interview with Dr. Goodman.
  • Posture Training. Poor posture is more the norm than the exception in the US. An estimated 80 percent of the US population will experience back pain at some point in their lives, and poor posture is the leading cause. One approach is the Gokhale Method, which helps retrain your body back to its “primal posture” and correcting the habits that may be causing pain.


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