By: Connor Davies ’14, Public and Community Health, CRS Communications Assistant
Do you use a laptop? Yes? Alright, can you see the screen of your laptop when you sit with your shoulders back and head up while looking straight forward? No?
Do you bend your neck down to get a better look at what you are working on? Yes?
Do you have a cell phone? Yes? How often do you hold it right in front of your face to text or check your email? Almost never….
Oh my, I am sorry to overwhelm you, but it sounds like you have a horrible case of the “Tech Hunch” – AKA poor posture.
You may be thinking, poor posture? Seriously? That is the least of my problems – what is the worst thing that can happen from a little bit of hunching?
The problem is, with all of the tech in our lives, we are constantly hunching over to use it – hunching over our laptops, smart phones, tablets, e-readers, and maybe even the stray textbook from time to time.
Tech hunch can lead to strained neck muscles, compromised spine curvature and misalignment of the vertebra.
But not to fear! These problems may sound scary, and yes they can become serious issues, but it only takes a few simple lifestyle changes to dramatically reduce your risk.
1. Evaluate your work station
The best position possible for encouraging good posture involves adjusting the placement of your computer monitor so that it’s at eye level while sitting up straight with shoulders back. However, the popularity of laptops and smartphones has made this optimal position a lot harder to achieve. If possible, opt for a slightly raised desk. This will lift your monitor height to be closer to your natural eye level.
What you choose to sit on is equally as important. Choose a chair with lower back support, this will help with spine alignment. Avoid stools and other backless options.
Perhaps you don’t even use a desk. If you work on your couch or on your bed, avoid laying down and resting the laptop or tablet on your stomach while arching your neck forward as this creates muscle strain. Try sitting up with your back supported and the laptop on your lap or on a laptop desk. A laptop desk will raise your computer towards eye level resulting in better posture. It’s not ideal, but it’s certainly an improvement.
2. Stretch and Strengthen
If you are already experiencing back pain, or would like to prevent it, there are plenty of stretches and strength training exercises that can help.
Simple 2-Minute Stretching Routine
- Tilt your neck from front to back and side to side.
- Stand up, hinge at the hips and fold forward, reaching down toward your toes.
- Place your hands on your lower back and arch backwards for a lumbar stretch.
Strength Training Exercises to Strengthen your Core
While doing these exercises can help improve your posture, using incorrect form can be just as detrimental to your health. To ensure you are using correct form, consider scheduling a session with one of the personal trainers at CRS, they would be happy to help you.
You might also consider trying yoga which is a great combination of stretching and strengthening and there are plenty of options for group fitness yoga with CRS.
3. Limit use as much as possible.
It would be downright insulting – not to mention utterly unrealistic – to say put down your tech for good. As students, we need to be on top of e-mails, group work, Canvas notifications and homework – all of which require use of technology. But, even if it’s just for an hour or two each day, try and intentionally power off, unplug, and put the tech down. Take a walk, cook a meal or talk to friends IN PERSON – anything where you’re focusing on something other than a screen. It will do your posture and your mind a lot of good!