Since you’re reading this, it’s safe to assume that you spend more than a few minutes each day at your computer. You may do your online banking, shop for the kids’ Christmas presents, order flowers for your dinner party – and check out Facebook. But there’s a price to be paid for too much computer time – like lower back pain and carpal tunnel syndrome.
In fact, we can identify four problems associated with excessive (although it’s not clear how much is ‘excessive’) computer use. The good news: all of them can be avoided by being careful and understanding the situation and practicing prevention. That is, after all, the point of this article. :-)
Back pain isn’t a minor problem. Lower back pain, though, is common because we sit for prolonged periods in front of our computer. Further, most of us have poor posture which causes our pain to begin with. Here’s what you can do:
When you notice the pain, get up from your computer and s-t-r-e-t-c-h. Bending forward will especially ease your pain because it stretches out the vertebrae in the back, but stretching up as high as you can and bending from side to side is also necessary.
Even better, set a timer and ‘proactively’ stretch. That is, stretch BEFORE there’s any pain. This will keep your spine and back healthy and flexible and allow you to avoid the entire misery altogether.
Carpal tunnel syndrome: you’re working at your desk or computer, trying to ignore the tingling or numbness you’ve had for months in your hand and wrist. Suddenly, a sharp, piercing pain shoots through your wrist and up your arm. It’s likely you have carpal tunnel syndrome, a painful progressive condition caused by compression of a key nerve in the wrist. Working at a computer all day causes constant usage of your hands and fingers. To prevent or minimize the pain of carpal tunnel syndrome, stop frequently to rest your hands, wrists and fingers, stretching them frequently. Pull each finger out, the way kids do when they’re trying to crack their knuckles. Flex and bend these areas often.
Neck and shoulder aches and pains are a frequent complaint of many computer users. I personally have a painful right shoulder that bothers me more frequently than any other part of my body, while others report neck problems. The best way to eliminate these miseries is to make sure your monitor screen is at eye level. A monitor that is much too low, or way too high, will cause the user to bend her neck in uncomfortable ways. As the neck and shoulder area are united, pain or distress in either will cause problems for both.
Eye problems are common with computer use. Fatigue, ‘tearing’, itching and blurring are reported by many people. Avoid monitors and laptops that have fluorescent lighting and check with an eye specialist at least once each year to make certain that your eyes aren’t being damaged. And just like the problems mentioned above, resting your eyes will minimize any strain.
Computers are wonderful and I am personally a fanatic when it comes to the virtual world. Still, there’s no denying that the four problems mentioned above are the hazards of too much computer use. In my life, I am aware of all of them and take steps to prevent them. For instance, I am typing these words with my eyes closed. You can do the same, and you should do the same, becase forewarned is forearmed, and all that good stuff.