What Happens When You Spend All Day on Devices

Before the pandemic, Americans were already spending an average of over 5 hours on their phones each day. Now that COVID-19 forced almost all workplaces to be remote and schools have moved online, most people are spending a significant amount of time on their devices. After 6 months of increased time spent on your computer and phone, combined with extra stress and a less-than-ideal setup, you may be starting to feel the impacts.

Do you get headaches toward the end of the day? Have you experienced neck and back pain? This article will explore some of the detrimental impacts of spending hours on devices each day as well as ways you can minimize and reverse these effects.

What’s the problem?

Hunching over a desk all day can cause significant neck and back strain, leading to all sorts of problems. This so-called “tech neck” is caused by the hunchback position many individuals take when using their computer or phone. Because the cervical spine is incredibly flexible, it’s also susceptible to strain when you don’t evenly balance your head’s weight. 

When you bend your head down to look at your devices, you place additional weight on your cervical spine. In fact, at a 15-degree angle, this weight is about 27 pounds and at 60 degrees it’s a whopping 60 pounds. 

How can you minimize cervical strain?

Unfortunately, if you now work remotely, giving up your devices isn’t a possibility. However, incorporating the following activities into your daily work routine can help minimize the impacts and provide some relief from pain.

Consider a standing desk. If you have trouble maintaining good posture when sitting, try standing instead. You don’t have to buy an expensive desk right away. Try working from your kitchen counter or another high surface where you can stand with your computer. Experiment with rotating your workstation every few hours to see if that alleviates any strain.

woman using wooden balance board

Be more active when working. The less active you are, the easier it is to resort back to the hunchback, slouched over position. Try using balance boards, rocker boards, or other fidget furniture to increase your sense of physical awareness.

Pay attention to your sleeping positions. If your back and neck are already strained from working all day, you’ll want to pay extra attention to how you’re sleeping. Use these sleeping positions to ensure you’re putting your spine in an optimal position.

Take small breaks throughout the day. At the office, you would naturally have breaks to get food, use the bathroom, and talk to coworkers. Try to incorporate the same small breaks from your day, even if it’s just stepping away from the computer for 5 minutes.

Stretch your spine every day. Use a cervical stretcher to stretch your spine for 5-10 minutes each day. This will allow you to “reset” some of the negative impacts caused by sitting on your devices all day. It’s important to do this stretch regularly for the impacts to take effect.

As social distancing regulations continue and you may be in a less-than-ideal work environment, it’s important to make sure you’re paying attention to your body. Increased stress from the unknown of the pandemic can cause back and neck pain flare-ups to be even worse, increasing your need for stretching.

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