Tips for maximizing technology while minimizing the pain – literally!
In the months leading up to the launch of my book, Peace for a Lifetime, I was doing more writing and computer work than normal. The process of platform building and marketing can be both demanding and time-consuming.
Several weeks ago I started noticing my shoulder aching. My entire left arm began to tingle through my elbow all the way down to my fingers.
I didn’t think much of it. I am not ill often. I simply kept pressing on in spite of the pain. Unfortunately it didn’t get any better. In fact, it only grew worse finally sending me to the chiropractor.
After initial x-rays and examination, I was told that my neck, which should be curved, is actually straight. Three discs in my neck were mostly immobile. Not a good diagnosis, as the chiropractor described.
What I didn’t know is that throughout our entire lives, our body uses these curves as shock absorbers. The curves help us to balance and move. When viewed from the side, the body should have three distinct curves – one in the neck, one in the mid back and one in the lower back.
The curve in the neck is considered the most important, and has been referred to as the arc of life. This is a term coined by a neurosurgeon due to the importance of the cervical curve and the structure it protects – your nervous system.
It turns out that my blogging and social media habits have placed my neck in a downward position, which has contributed to my considerable neck pain. I am not alone. “It is an epidemic or, at least, it’s very common,” Hansraj, chief of spine surgery at New York Spine Surgery and Rehabilitation Medicine, told The Washington Post. “Just look around you, everyone has their heads down.”
Research has shown multiple severe health-issues related to the loss of the cervical curvature. Multiple studies have shown that a loss of this curve reduces lung capacity by up to 30%; decreased lung capacity has been linked to COPD, heart disease and cancer.
Abnormal posture can cause organ disease, muscle tension, increased sensitivity to pain and weakened immune system. Loss of cervical curve can also result in loss of balance, dizziness, overall poor health, headaches, pain, numbness, weaknesses and decreased quality of life. It can also inhibit the release of endorphins, which can have a negative impact on our moods and sense of happiness and wellbeing.
Scientists suggest the major factor in the rise of “text-neck,” as they have named it, is the enormous increase in technology usage throughout the day. Smartphone users spend an average of two to four hours per day hunched over, reading e-mails, sending texts or checking social media sites. That’s 700 to 1,400 hours per year people are putting stress on their spines, according to the research.
According to The Wireless Association, texting statistics have increased astronomically. In June 2006 in the USA, there were 12.5 billion texts sent monthly. By June 2011, that number grew to 196.9 billion. Clearly, this problem isn’t going anywhere. Who knew?
Since our physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing are so intricately connected, it is vital that we are aware of and care for our physical health. If you use your computer often or are on your electronic devices, here are some practical tips to avoid “text-neck” and help keep your wellbeing in tip-top shape.
- Get the app – Florida chiropractor, Dr. Dean Fishman actually created a “Text Neck” app for the Android, which offers “immediate real time feedback” about whether your standing in the correct posture, indicated by a green or red light. There’s also an optional vibration or beep reminder, when you lapse into bad habits. Best of all, according to the doctor, it actually tracks and scores your slouching/standing patterns.
- Raise the phone – Move your cell phone (and other devices) to eye level so your head doesn’t have to be tilted.
- Take frequent breaks – Spend some time away from the phone—or any type of head-forward posture. Remember to change positions when texting—lying on one’s back is an excellent way to relieve pressure on the neck.
- Stand up straight – Good posture, with the shoulders pulled back, keeps the body aligned in a neutral position.
- Arch and stretch – Arch the neck and upper back backward periodically to ease muscle pain.
- Stay fit – A strong, flexible back and neck are better able to handle extra stress.
We are only given one body. I know we will all increasingly use technology as a means of connecting with and engaging the world around us. Yet if we can become aware of and implement a few things to help our bodies, we will in fact be helping our souls. We will be building a strong physical foundation that will empower us to live abundantly —physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
We can all cultivate more balance in our lives, which is essential if we are going to achieve our goals or experience the abundant life we desire. Physical wellbeing is one piece of the puzzle that will help you on your journey towards peace.
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- Lee S, Kang H, Shin G. Head flexion angle while using a smartphone. Ergonomics. 2015;58(2):220-226.
• Hansraj KK. Assessment of Stresses in the Cervical Spine Caused by Posture and Position of the Head. Surgical Technology International. 2014;11(25):277-9.
Lisa is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, author, coffee lover, and wife. Her online community lisamurrayonline.com provides a compassionate place in the midst of the stresses and struggles of life. At heart, Lisa is just a Southern girl who loves beautiful things, whether it is the beauty of words found in a deeply moving story, the beauty of a meal cooked with love, the beauty of a cup of coffee with a friend, or the beauty seen in far away landscapes and cultures. She has fallen passionately in love with the journey and believes it is among the most beautiful gifts to embrace and celebrate. While she grew up in the Florida sunshine, she and her husband now live just outside Nashville in Franklin, TN.
About Peace for a Lifetime
In her new book, Peace for a Lifetime, Lisa Murray shares the keys to cultivating a life that’s deeply rooted, overflowing, and abundant, the fruit of which is peace. Through personal and professional experience as a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Lisa discovered how to take the broken pieces of life and find indestructible peace with herself, God and with others. Through Lisa and other’s stories you’ll realize that you can experience the life for which you long. You can experience abundance beyond anything you can imagine. You can experience peace, not just for today, not just for tomorrow. You can experience peace —for a lifetime!
Peace for a Lifetime is available on Amazon.com.
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