Between iPads, smart phones, e-readers and all of the many technological toys that have risen in popularity in recent years, there are more ways than ever to entertain oneself. Unfortunately, it also means a significant increase in ways to injure your neck and upper back through repeatedly looking down. This repetitive motion can contribute to a condition called “Upper Crossed Syndrome,” and as consumer technology advances, chiropractors are bracing for more adults and teens with upper crossed syndrome.
Fortunately, a few changes to our use of consumer technology as well as some effort to strengthen muscles we rarely think about, can help deter this upper crossed syndrome.
Upper crossed syndrome is best understood as a muscle condition that arises from holding certain positions for a long period of time. Muscles in the back of the neck tighten; at the same time, the opposite muscles in the front of the neck and between the shoulder blades weaken. The result of this imbalance in the muscles of the upper body is a gradual buildup of neck pain, upper back pain and even tension headaches.
As the pain increases, stress also is typical.
How can something as small as an e-reader or a smart phone cause so much physical damage? The problem isn’t the devices themselves but the way so many of us use them. Things like checking email, online banking and even playing games on a smart phone or tablet require us to look down for long periods of time, placing a tremendous amount of stress on the neck and upper back.
Giving up these devices is out of the question for most of us. But we can make a few changes to make them as convenient for our bodies as they are for our schedules.
The underlying problem in upper crossed syndrome has to do with tight muscles – so why not stretch them out? Try some of the stretch below to loosen your upper back muscles.
Strength is most often valued for its cosmetic or practical benefits, but sturdy muscles are vital to our overall health too. Try some of the exercises below to build up your rhomboids and middle trapezius muscles. It could make a huge difference in your likelihood of developing upper crossed syndrome.
Because this condition most often arises from use of devices common in homes and at offices, working smarter is key to preventing upper crossed syndrome. Invest in ergonomic chairs and other devices for your home office; at work, little things like using a copy holder to read documents can reduce stress on your neck and in your life as a result.
Technology and your health can co-exist. Follow these steps and you can enjoy both consumer technology and physical comfort.