Back and neck pain – millennial curse

Millenials (18-36 year olds), also known as Generation Y, are the first generation to grow up with cell phones, the internet and TV on demand. It’s no wonder technology has become such a fundamental part of their everyday life. 

At this stage, the long-term effects of heavy technology use are unknown. However, millennials are already showing signs of digital wear and tear with common neck and back pain. 

The number of young people seeking help for neck and back pain has risen 60 per cent in the past year, driven by inactive lifestyles (such as a desk-bound job) and the use of technology. 

What can you do to reduce neck and back pain?

These tips below will help to ease pain caused by too much time using a screen or device: 

Sit up straight: Many people are unaware that staying in the same position can cause unnecessary strain on the back. Sitting for long periods of time causes up to twice as much pressure on discs on the spine as standing. Whether you’re at your desk, on your tablet or sitting watching TV, always make sure your back is straight by placing your back against the seat back. Your shoulder blades should also touch the back rest of your chair. 

Be conscious of your posture, especially when slouching on the sofa. A study published in the Journal Surgical Technology International says the average adult head weighs between 5-10kgs, and tilting it down to check Facebook or send a text puts this added weight on the neck and shoulders. Imagine that weight-strain, every single time you check your phone. No wonder wear and tear builds up over time. 

Adjust your computer screen: If you are regularly using a computer, make sure you’re sitting properly, with your screen level with your eyebrows and your chair tipped slightly forward so that your knees are slightly higher than your hips. Keep your elbows at your sides and your forearms parallel to the floor. Then position your keyboard so you can reach it comfortably without moving your elbows. Both of your feet should be flat on the floor. If your feet can’t reach the floor – use a footrest. Your back will thank you. 

Take regular breaks and switch off from your device: It’s important to take regular breaks from your screen to relieve the built-up tension in your lower back. Don’t sit for longer than 45 minutes at a time at your desk and make an effort to look up from your device often. Go for a walk, grab a cup of coffee or catch up on some reading.  For some, breaks come naturally but for others a heads-up is necessary. Put a reminder on your phone or download one of the many ‘break’ apps that remind you to turn away from your screen. 

It’s important to remember to step away from your device and have a much-needed screen-break. Inforce a ‘no-screen time’ day once a week where you focus on doing exercise, reading a book or embracing a new hobby. Even if it’s only half an hour a week, a balance is key to a healthy back. 

With technology a crucial part in our everyday lives it’s difficult to realise the harm that it can have on our bodies. Monitor how much time you spend on your device and focus on your posture. Simply sitting up straight with your head and shoulders aligned can make all the difference to your neck and back. 

If you think your back might be suffering from too much screen time, we do recommend contacting a health professional to discuss the best solution for you.

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