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The hidden ways tech is affecting our bodies

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One might think that lying in bed scrolling on your phone is about as harmless as a pastime activity it could be. However, it turns out that is not quite the case.

Technology has infiltrated every facet of our lives to the point where our own bodies get affected by it without us realising.

Sports therapist Jamie Webb from Brighton Sports Therapy has been observing more and more gadget-related injuries, alongside the more traditional sports-related injuries. Here are the ten most common tech-related injuries:

  1. Swiper’s Thumb
Touch-screen phones have been using the swipe mechanic more and more and with good reason, as it greatly enhances user experience. However, it is possible to overwork the thumb that does most of the swiping.

The condition, also known as teno synovitis of pollicis tendons or De Quervain’s syndrome, is usually caused by over-using the thumb muscles to the point when the tendons get strained and the radial nerve gets irritated.

  1. Desktopitis
Resting your elbows on a desk for too long can either lead to over-sensitised elbows (which is relatively minor) or to more extreme cases where a bursa is irritated. A bursa is the fluid-filled sack that helps the skin glide over the bony points in the elbow. In such extreme cases, your elbow will end up looking like it is ready to give birth to a tennis ball at any point.  

  1. Tablet Bicep
Sadly, holding a tablet for long won’t give you nice, rounded biceps, but it does have the potential to badly affect them. Tablet Bicep happens when you hold a tablet with both arms away from your body so you can use it.

While that doesn’t sound like much of a problem, it does lead to what is called adaptive shortening – if your muscles are held in a short position for certain periods of time, they keep that length, which in turn increases the potential of developing an RSI (repetitive strain injury) condition in the shoulder, elbow, or wrist.

  1. Computer Hunch

What is possibly the most well-known condition of all of these, computer hunch occurs due to bad posture when sitting at a desktop computer. When you slouch forward for a long period of time, your muscles between your shoulder blades have to do too much work to do, which leads to pain and stiffness in the upper back, neck and shoulders.

  1. Mouse Wrist
If you use a computer mouse for long periods of time, the muscles that extend the wrist can be affected negatively, and that can spread from the tendon of the index finger all the way up to the wrist and forearm as well. That in itself can lead to nerve irritation and repetitive strain injury.

  1. Laptop Neck
If you work on a laptop, you usually have to look down on it. The muscle that does it – sternocledionmastoid, for those who are interested – becomes short and tight the more you have to use it. The shortening of this muscles means that the muscles which oppose this movement also have more work to do.

The problem with that is that those are the muscles that go from the neck to the shoulder, and are also incidentally the ones that hurt the most, when they aren’t happy.

  1. Kindle strain

Similarly to laptop neck, lying down and propping your head up with pillows so you can read can lead to the shortening of the same muscle. That is because you’re effectively looking down for long periods of time, and the more pillows you use, the worse it might become. The worst problem, however, is that if the book is really, really good, you won’t even notice.

  1. Standing Desk Ache
Poor posture haunts us regardless of whether we are sitting down or standing up. When standing straight, most people will put more weight on one leg or the other, which in turn disbalances the pelvis. That can lead to muscle tightening on one side of the pelvis compared to the other, which in turn obviously means pain.

  1. Fit Bit Compulsive Disorder (FBCD)
Fit bits can be amazing motivators, which in turn can be harmful to our bodies. Quite a lot of people go from doing next to nothing in terms of physical exercise to doing ten thousand steps a day, just to keep their fit bits happy. That is very problematic in itself, since your body needs time to recover, as well as time to get used to this strain. If you don’t let your muscles recover, they tire out more quickly, and stay tighter for longer. That can lead to pains in parts of your body, mostly knees, ankles and shins.

  1. Gamers Rage Tension

Video games are amazing and a great past-time, as they bring us to new and amazing worlds and present relatively straightforward tasks to complete, while building up an emotional response to it. That is to say, in moments where tension is at its highest (Champions League on FIFA 2017, anyone?), we tend to grit our teeth and tense our bodies, in particular our shoulders.

Prolonged periods of doing that (and let’s face it, you either play for 10 hours or not at all) can lead to some seriously negative overuse of the muscles going on. That is most common in teenage boys and adult men who haven’t grown up.

So, what do we do, when even the technology that was created to make our lives easier is slowly affecting our health and making us grumpier and giving us constant pain?

Well, the good news is that the only thing we need to do to prevent these injuries from happening is to be more aware of our postures when using our laptops/tablets/Kindles/gadgets of choice and try to make small changes to subvert the negative effects.

So straighten your back, I’m sure you’re slouching as you’re reading this now!

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