How many peoples’ day goes something like this? You get up in the morning, shower, have breakfast, and in-between you check your emails and the news using a computer, laptop, tablet or phone. Then you go to work, during which time you are likely using your phone or tablet if you go by subway or train. While you are at work, you spend a large amount of time on the computer. Really when you add it up, you are on the computer 90% of your day, 95% if you eat lunch at your desk and use the computer then too. Then you commute home with more screen time. Eat dinner, and then likely some more screen time after dinner, and maybe even more screen time with your tablet in bed. Then you go to bed and start it all again the next day.
Unfortunately this type of day brings the risk factor “overuse” into overdrive. Your body cannot get a break from screen time and these parts of your body start to suffer:
- Eyes – strain from looking at screens all day
- Neck – from bending your head over your phone or tablet
- Shoulders – from holding your phone or tablet and when using your laptop or computer
- Forearms, fingers, and thumbs – from using your muscles to type, mouse, swipe, point, etc.
- Wrists – from holding your phone or tablet
Overuse isn’t the only risk factor. These risk factors also come into play:
- Force and contact stress– from gripping your phone or tablet
- Repetitive motion and awkward postures– in the neck, forearms, wrists, fingers, and thumbs
- Static postures – in the back, hips, and legs from sitting/being inactive too long
So what can you do? The most important thing is to take frequent breaks from screen time. Check your emails and the news in the morning, but limit your time to 10-15 minutes. Don’t use your phone or tablet during your whole commute –listen to music or an audio book and give your hands a break. Get up from your desk every hour at work – walk around the office, shake out your hands, rotate your wrists, loosen up your neck (bring your ear to each shoulder and look over your shoulder on each side a few times). Don’t each lunch at your desk or at the very least, don’t spend your whole lunch hour there – take a walk outside or socialize with co-workers. Limit your screen time at home too. Watch TV or movies so your arms are relaxed. Or better yet, get away from all screens – take a walk, listen to music, play with your children or dog, do yoga, go for a bike ride, or just chill. Take a break from screen time and your body will thank you.