Computers: Both a Gift and a Curse!
“Technology…is a queer thing. It brings you great gifts with on hand, and stabs you in the back with the other.” This is a quote from author Carrie P. Snow, and in my opinion, a perfect example of the computer. Everyday most of us use a PC or laptop at home or for business/work, to look at our e-mails, get the current news, Facebook, etc… Some of us sit there for hours doing work, pecking at the keys and clicking our mouse without ever taking a break to move, stretch, and get some water. This is most likely why many of us have a constant stiff neck, upper, middle and lower back pain, a sore shoulder, tight legs and low energy during the day. Here are a few tips on how to decrease and perhaps eliminate some of your computer aches and pains.
Make sure that you are in the proper sitting position. Your work computer should be ergonomically correct for you. Your employer should have the HR department or an outside company make sure that your chair, monitor and work station is properly set up for you. At home or with a laptop, just make sure you are sitting up straight with a chair that has good lumbar support and that your monitor and keyboard are comfortable for you to use. As far as a chair, it is like picking out a mattress, so look around and find one that you are very comfortable with. One suggestion is a ball chair. Just search the internet for “Ball Chair” and plenty of information will show up.
Take a break every 45 minutes to an hour. You need to get up and move to help circulation and get your muscles active. Do 5-10 minutes of gentle range of motion stretching with your neck, lower back, legs, and shoulders. For the neck and upper back, simply sit on one hand palm up and use your other hand to help pull your head straight across to the opposite shoulder and hold for 10-15 seconds. Then gradually flex your head forward while turning your chin towards the side that you are sitting on your hand. Repeat 3-5 times and always stretch both sides.
For the shoulders and arms, get your self in a position as if you were going to throw a ball. Then start to make big circles with your throwing arm as if it were a big windmill, doing this 10-20 times forward, and then do it backwards and repeat with the opposite arm. This will get blood pumping into the muscles of the shoulder, arms, and upper back. Then perform shoulder circles by rotating your shoulders in big circles forward 10-20 times and then backwards. This exercise will help loosen up the shoulder girdle and its muscle groups and will help release stress and decrease pain while increasing range of motion.
Finally, remember to stay hydrated. Water, fresh fruit and 100% fruit juices are the key to this, especially in the dry cold winter. The amount of water that you minimally should drink is half of your body weight in ounces. You can also benefit by increasing fresh fruit and fruit juices. Try to get juice that has no high fructose corn syrup or other sweeteners added. Remember, the juice contains electrolytes that water does not and can help hydrate you quicker and better than just water alone. And if you are worried about the calories from the juice, then dilute to a 50-50 ratio with water. You still get your fluids and electrolytes and with this combination as well as a little more flavor than water alone. And avoid sports drinks. These should only be consumed if you are working out, not sitting and working at your computer, as they were designed to help replenish fluids and electrolytes from exercise.
Regular chiropractic will help keep your spine and body systems in proper alignment and working order, allowing you and your body to perform at its best. And let’s not forget about exercise. 30-45 minutes and 3-4 times a week of cardio is key, but always start off slow and work up to a pace that you can handle.
These are just a few examples of how to decrease some of the aches, pains and stiffness caused by an over or improper use of the computer. There are many other stretches and exercises that can help, and if you would like more information on these please contact me at my office.
So remember, sit properly, stretch, hydrate, stay active, and visit your chiropractor for routine visits. This combination should help in decreasing the aches and pains connected with the use of our daily companion, friend and nemesis, the computer.
Dr. Brian Betts
Lake Marion Chiropractic Center
9202 202nd Street West #203
Lakeville, MN 55044
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