We’ve all heard about computer posture and how prolonged computer use leads to poor posture, but is there a deeper issue? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 80% of Americans use a computer daily at their workplace. With the stressful demands of the workplace, employees aren’t likely concerned with good posture on a daily basis. However, if you’ve ever walked by a row of cubicles, it’s easy to notice the norm: slumped low back, rounded shoulders, arm extended at the mouse or keyboard, and head forward posture. An average 40 hour work week really starts to take a toll on the body, it’s no wonder everyone has neck and upper back pain!
The problem is that there are multiple sources for this kind of posture. Just think, most everything we use during the day puts us in a flexed position: phones, tablets, laptops, games, the list goes on! And it doesn’t just stop with electronics. Cooking, eating, sleeping, driving, and reading are all things that add to a prolonged flexed position of the neck.
Poor posture means that our neck is in a flexed position, shoulders are rounded, and the head juts forward. This bad posture creates a constant strain on the muscles of the neck, leading to fibrosis which causes pain and stiffness. Have you ever been sitting at your computer for too long, and suddenly felt the urge to look up and arch your back the opposite way? This action is attempting to undo the hours of posture and strain on the back.
Failure to treat the pain and correct the posture can lead to long term damage by causing spinal degeneration and possibly arthritis. These are normal changes for 50 and 60 year olds, but we are starting to see these changes in our younger patients, as young as 20 and 30 years of age. Whats more disconcerting, is that kids are growing up with technology in their hands. I’ve seen two year olds that can use a smart phone or iPad better than some of their parents! Technology seems to be accelerating the condition, which is why it is more important than ever to start doing something about it.