Your Smartphone, Text Neck and Joint Pain!

As women entrepreneurs, we live a fast-paced life. Finding a way to balance personal and family life with the demands of growing a business is a constant challenge.

One of the common themes in our lives as entrepreneurs is the role technology plays in the way we run our lives and our businesses. As entrepreneurs, we want to make the most of our time, and technology enables us to hold the threads of the disparate pieces of our lives together.  With that in mind, I’ve a question for you, “When was the last time you left your home without your Smartphone?”  In today’s hectic technological world, Smartphones are essential; for scheduling, for communication with work peers and family, for sourcing information and booking reservations. We use those little gadgets all the time! I would be lost without mine!

Unfortunately, all that convenience comes at a cost: to our neck, shoulder and thumb joints.  Our bodies simply weren’t designed to stare into a smartphone or computer screen for hours on end. Sometimes the neck pain, back pain and tenderness of the joints we feel can be attributed to  overuse of technology.  We’ve even coined the word “text neck” to describe the headaches, shoulder pain and arm pain that comes from excessive texting.

Those of us who spend hours slouched in a chair at work or in the car using our phones for texting or emailing often experience the most discomfort.  If you notice swelling, pain or lack of mobility in your neck, back, shoulder, wrist or thumb, the first step is to seek professional help from a trusted physiotherapist or chiropractor to understand what is going on and to get appropriate treatment.

If you are dealing with repetitive strain injuries, it helps to deal with the pain and inflammation right away.  Laser therapy  is one thing that can help.  Laser therapy delivers photons of light to injured tissue and stimulates biochemical changes at the cellular level  that accelerate the body’s natural healing processes. When the pain and inflammation have subsided, other treatment techniques, such as manual therapy and exercise may be introduced. In the long run, it is essential to correct faulty alignment and postures; so keep that in mind when you feel your body is rebelling due to an overload of technology.

We can’t avoid Smartphones; they are a feature of our life.  We can  be smart and can learn to use them safely.  To help avoid injury, here are some strategies that work:

  • When you are using your Smartphone, be sure to take frequent breaks.  Look away from the screen, roll your shoulders, spread your fingers, stretch and relax.
  • Bring the Smartphone up to eye-level to maintain good neck alignment. It looks odd but your neck will thank you.
  • If texting starts to hurt your thumbs, try using your index fingers for a change or switch the hand you use to text.

Here are some simple exercises to help keep your neck and joints mobile.

Chin Tuck

Drop your chin towards your chest, hold for 5 to 15 seconds once you feel a comfortable stretch from your neck to the base of your skull. Return your head to the upright position. Repeat ten times.  (Alignment is important in this exercise – check that your ears are pulled back in line with shoulders, when viewed from the side).

Neck Side-bend

Tilt your head to the right, bringing your ear close to your shoulder.  Hold 5 to 15 seconds.  Return your head to centre and repeat to other side.  Repeat five times on each side.  (Correct neck alignment as described above.)

Finger taps

Tap each finger with the thumb of the same hand. Repeat five times.

Thumb pulls

Pull your thumb firmly with the other hand. Repeat five times.

Simple stretches

Reach up high overhead with both arms and grasp your hands and stretch.  Reach behind your back with both arms; clasp your hands and stretch. Repeat both stretches three times.

There is no reason to live with pain simply because of the way we use technology at work and in life.  Sometimes it helps to take a break. Small changes like turning off your Smartphone during mealtime, at the gym, when you are driving or when you shop do make a difference! Most of all listen to your body; if it hurts seek professional help before the pain becomes chronic. Your body will thank you and you will be more productive in your life.

Since the inception of our business, Avalon Laser Health, I have been involved with NLOWE’s Mastermind program.  Being a member of this select group of forward-thinking business women has nurtured the skills essential to making Avalon Laser Health Clinic a success. It has supported me through those tough first few years of transition from a business vision into a successful enterprise.  The Mastermind group has been a phenomenal source of know-how: who has a great designer, social media professional, whatever? For every problem faced, my NLOWE Mastermind group has provided guidance. Having this amazing group of women in my corner has been an inspiration. If you are a new business owner or one interested in reaching your dreams, I highly recommend that you get involved with the NLOWE Mastermind Program; the future is truly yours!

 

Clare BarryClare Barry is co-owner and manager of Avalon Laser Health – live without pain, a multidisciplinary health clinic that focuses on the treatment of acute and chronic pain conditions with low-intensity laser therapy.  The clinic also offers chiropractic, physiotherapy, acupuncture and massage therapy services. Our collaborative approach provides a variety of treatment options for our clients. Our goal is to help our clients live their lives fully – without pain.  For more information about Avalon Laser Health, visit their Facebook page or website: www.avalonlaserhealth.ca.

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