With the advent of the computer and the fact that many people are spending a large percentage of their day sitting and using this great tool, there is almost an “epidemic” of computer related conditions. Problems including neck and back pain, headaches, dizziness, pain, numbness or tingling in the shoulders and upper extremities are among the more common complaints. We are finding these conditions not only in adults but also often with teenagers and even children. I am sure that many parents have seen their kids sprawled in contortionist like postures playing computer video games for hours. It is know wonder why many health professionals are now finding children with spinal related problems that were usually associated with adults.

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These maladies are primarily due to stresses put upon the body during prolonged sitting at a computer and the constant usage of the keyboard and mouse. Factors that influence this include the amount of time spent at the computer, the set up of the workstation, the chair, other pre-existing problems with the neck, back or shoulders and of course bad sitting posture.

An important development that has become more apparent in the past few years is the increased usage of laptops as a person’s primary computer. It is bad enough for our body to have to adapt to a normal computer setup but in order to use a laptop one has to assume an even more stressful posture. This is because the screen is very close to the keyboard and the keyboard is generally much smaller than one uses with a desktop. In order to see the screen properly while typing on a laptop one has to take a much more hunched posture as well a have more downward head tilt. This increases the stress upon the tissues of the neck, back, shoulders and arms and in addition the bigger the person the more difficulties one will have with a laptop.

Considering our anatomy it is easy to understand why people are having problems from their computer lifestyle. The neck and back have many important nerves that come off the spinal cord and go through spaces between the intervertebral discs and joints. These nerves branch many times like the roots of a tree and control and mediate sensation, muscle and organ function, and blood flow. For example, the nerves exiting the neck and upper back control all the functions from the shoulder all the way down to our fingertips.

There are also branches that travel back in to the head and it is little surprise why so many people with neck pain have not only problems in their upper extremities but headaches and even dizziness

Prolonged sitting and especially in the posture one assumes at a computer causes several negative things to occur within our body. These include an increase pressure in our intervertebral discs, a change in the primary curves of the spine, tightening of specific muscle groups, circulatory changes and general stress upon some of the ligaments and connective tissues. All of these factors will contribute to nerve irritation and eventually can cause painful conditions. Even with ideal sitting position, there is still more stress upon the average spine sitting than standing.

So what is the solution to this ever-increasing problem? Although we cannot avoid computer usage on the job or for our studies there are some things that one can do to minimize the negatives of prolonged sitting at a computer.

First of all, it is important that one gets up as often as possible for a short mini break. Just changing posture from sitting to standing will relieve much of the stress. While sitting, frequent exercises like seen in the airplane videos and brochures, which involve moving your head and shoulders on a regular basis is also helpful.

Of course one must have good posture and use an appropriate chair designed for proper sitting and not necessarily for style. As mentioned earlier laptop usage is definitely more detrimental so if you use your laptop on a desk get an external key board and mouse and raise the laptop up so the top of the screen is level with your eyes when you are sitting up straight. Better yet if possible get an external monitor and attach it to the laptop.

All of these suggestions will help to alleviate some of the negatives of prolonged sitting at a computer though it is also important that one does regular exercise including things like yoga and pillates, weight training and cardio vascular exercise. These activities will keep the muscles and connective tissue strong and flexible to adapt more easily to prolonged sitting.

If you still have some of the problems associated with your neck and back it is best to visit a health professional such a chiropractor to get a proper assessment of the problem and appropriate treatment.Computers – Friend