5 Tips to Keep Devices From Being a Pain in the Neck at Work

Millions of Americans spend the majority of their waking hours each day at work. A recent survey by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found that employed adults spend an average of just 18 minutes per day participating in sports, exercise or recreation, compared to an average of 7.6 hours of work per day.

So for those of us whose jobs involve sitting or frequently using mobile devices, it’s important to remember that the same good posture rules you learned in elementary school apply to the work environment.

Michelle Miller, wellness coordinator at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, reminds us that poor posture can lead to many health issues including muscle and joint pain, as well as fatigue.

“The devices we use at work can eventually contribute to repetitive strains or injuries if we don’t take time to ensure we have good alignment,” said Miller.

She says to keep both feet flat on the floor, knees bent at a right angle, with your back straight and shoulders relaxed.

Here are five tips to help prevent pain when using mobile technology for work:

  1. Avoid “turtle hunch”: And the “cocoon”, the “lean,” the “swipe” and any other technology-driven postures our bodies have created to adapt to our devices. Restrictive motions (like swiping mindlessly through Facebook photos on your phone) or sitting in a way that reduces circulation (like curling up with your iPad), can create unnecessary pains and strains. Ergonomically designed products such as specialty desk chairs and iPhone stands can help reduce the risk of health problems from the strains often caused by using devices.
  2. Text with your finger pads, not fingertips: Nancy Yob, employee health and safety coordinator at BCBSM, recommends using the pad of your fingertip for texting, not the tip of your fingernails. This way, your thumb is not bent in an awkward position that can lead to discomfort. Some simple hand and forearm stretches could help prevent pain from popping up.
  3. Brighter is not better: Have you ever checked your phone in the middle of the night, only to be greeted with the pain of glaring into a blinding blue light? Screen brightness is one of the biggest contributors to eye strain and fatigue and can also lead to headaches. When it comes to using screen devices like computers, tablets and cell phones, remember to match the brightness of the device to that of the room you are in.
  4. Get moving: Mobile technology means many people are able to accomplish work from outside their traditional environments. If your job allows, consider taking your laptop to work in a common lounge area for an hour. Walk to the corner coffee shop to catch up on emails on your tablet. Take a conference call while walking laps around the courtyard. All three of these options require you to get up and get moving, and thanks to the portability of today’s technology, you can.
  5. Use technology to perk your posture: Wearable technology devices can be used to your advantage and help improve your posture. A device called the Lumo is worn around the waist and uses vibrations to gently remind you to sit straight. Other wearable activity trackers like the Jawbone and Nike+ Fuelband will notify you if you’ve been sitting at your desk for too long.

Do you find yourself slouching when using technology at work? What tricks do you have for maintaining proper posture when using mobile devices?

Photo credit: gdstream

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