When it comes to my relationship with my tech, sometimes, love hurts. I spend what feels like “just a little while” (read: hours and hours) checking emails or texting friends, and by the end of the day, my back, shoulders and thumbs are screaming for mercy. And the more device-love I give, the more pain I get.
I’m thinking I’m not alone when it comes to tech wrecking my physical well-being, so I made a DigiKnow video about it that you can watch here.
I also called in some tech relationship therapy from master bodyworker and functional movement expert Scott Crawford, owner of SOMA Get Fit (an amazing fitness retreat in Santa Barbara). He gave me his top tips on avoiding tech-related injuries, so my devices and I can enjoy more quality time together.
Got neck and shoulder tightness that sometimes runs into your low back and hips? Crawford can guess the reason: it’s all in your posture. “Your neck goes forward, your shoulders kind of fold forward, and your chest muscles get tight while you’re working.” Guilty.
“Your keyboard should be positioned so your forearms are parallel to your thighs. Your feet should be flat on the floor. If they can’t reach, use a foot rest,” he says. “Now imagine a string coming out of your chest, pulling it up to the sky. Open your heart, bring your shoulders back a little, and drop your chin slightly.” Once I had it, Crawford gave me an easy way to align even faster: “Reach your fingertips toward the floor and just behind your spine, until you can feel everything stretching. And remember that shoulders and ears are not friends. They will fight and hurt each other if they get too close.” You can even use your tech to keep you honest. “It sounds funny, but I recommend a posture check alert. Just set a reminder to pop up every 20 minutes to remind you to realign. It can help tremendously.”
You could also check out the Lumo Lift, a posture coach app and device that will help you sit up straight.
Now that we have touch screens, I don’t get soreness like I used to from punching little buttons. Instead, I get pain in my thumb joint, and sometimes, it radiates into my wrist (making me carpal tunnel-phobic).
“Think about using a stylus,” suggests Crawford. “It will let you keep your wrist in a more natural, neutral position. Also, using voice command is very smart.” And after a day of heavy usage, “Squeeze a tennis ball, and also roll it up and down your arms to release tension. Spreading your fingers and pressing your palms into a desk or table will help, too.”
There are lots of styluses that you can use with a tablet or smartphone, but the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 and Samsung Galaxy Note 4 are two devices that have styluses built in, and might just be the remedy to your sore digits.
My mom always told me not to stare too long at the TV screen. But I’m not as careful with my monitor because, well, it’s “for work.” I end up with pulsating, watering eyes and a stiff neck.
First, make sure the monitor is directly in front of you (unless you’re a bank teller and regularly looking away from it). You generally shouldn’t be tilting your neck in any direction to see the screen. Next, “Take regular, 20-second breaks to look left, up, right and down,” says Crawford. Gaze at something a distance away, to give your eyes a rest from close-up focusing. Also, your monitor should be about as bright as your surroundings. Have particularly sensitive eyes? “Think about getting a screen cover that reduces glare,” says Crawford.
f.lux is software that makes the harsh glare of your monitor easier on the eyes— it can make a big difference, especially if you’re working into the nighttime hours.
Finally, for perfect harmony with your devices, consider an old-school massage. “Doing that every other week can really save you a lot of trouble later,” says Crawford. In other words, the man just said massage is important. So grab your stylus and book that spa day—your tech relationship may depend on it!
Got another tip for avoiding tech injuries? Share it in the comments!