Tech Neck and Office Knee – How Technology Is Harming Our Joints
Knee pain is usually a complaint of the over 55s, but there has been a recent surge in younger patients visiting hospitals and physiotherapists complaining of constant pain in their leg joints. While obesity can be to blame for some patients, a huge rise in knee pain has been seen in those who have office and desk jobs.
The amount of people with a knee complaint has risen sharply since the advent of the internet and it is thought that sitting down for long periods of time and unsuitable office furniture are to blame. If you’re one of those affected by knee pain related to your job then there are a few things you can do to help stretch and relax your joints while working.
Get up from your chair when you can and walk around to stretch your legs and encourage increased blood flow- going for a short walk around the office once every hour will help. Try to stretch your legs out straight when you can to take pressure off your knee joints, and cross your legs at the ankle instead of the thigh. Finally, ensure that your chair is at the correct height there should be a small gap between your leg and the chair into which you can place three fingers. This ensures that your knees are not at an unnatural 90 degree angle all day and are also not swinging because they can’t reach the floor.
In addition to knee pain, new technology has brought with it an increase in neck, back and should pain along with a new phenomenon labelled ‘tech neck’. Smartphones in particular are to blame for pain in the joints of neck, shoulder and back as people can spend hours looking down at their smartphone in an unnatural position, putting unneeded strain on the head and back. This can lead to paid when moving about and headaches, as well as an increase in bad posture. Holding smartphones at a higher angle in front of the face can help to prevent some of the bad effects that new technology can have on the joints, and not hunching over laptops like in the image below can also help the back, shoulders and neck too.
The tech neck phenomenon refers partly to the neck pain that smartphone users can find themselves experiencing, but a more cosmetic problem can also arise. Deep lines can appear horizontally around the neck and represent premature aging in those addicted to their devices. These modern wrinkles have been seen more and more by cosmetologists and non-surgical facelift specialists who say they’ve seen a correlation between the rise in new technology and neck wrinkles, even among the young. Using moisturisers and anti wrinkle creams will only go so far to prevent the tech neck lines, but the easiest way to reduce the possibility of these neck wrinkles is posture improvement and raising smartphones, e-readers and computer screens to be at face height.
Technology is also causing problems for smaller joints such as those of the wrist and fingers- tendonitis is relatively common in those who work with computers and carpel tunnel syndrome is a rarer but increasingly common nerve problem. Repetitive grasping, pinching and typing movements can put you at risk for both of these types of pain and that includes working with a mouse, keyboard, tablet or smartphone.
Tendonitis can feel like sore wrists and elbows or sharp pains in the hand but can be easily prevented by following a few simple tips. Invest in an ergonomic mouse to use while working to take the strain off your fingers and hand, check to make sure that none of your keyboard keys are sticky or difficult to press and make sure that your keyboard is at elbow level or higher.
Carpel tunnel syndrome can cause pain, tingling and numbness in the fingers and wrist that can wake you up at night and prevent you from moving your hand properly during the day. Performing arm and hand stretches along with taking regular breaks and using proper touch typing technique may help to prevent this painful condition from taking hold.
Now more than ever it is important to remember proper posture and ergonomic techniques when at work or relaxing with a hand held device. Not only can modern technology cause us problems while we’re young, but office knee, back pain and tendonitis will only worsen as we get older if it takes hold now.