City Centre Chiropractic

Brisbane 3229 6993

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Is your laptop a health hazard?

Doctors in the UK are reporting children as young as 12 are suffering from postural and nerve damage triggered by long periods slouched over their laptop.  Chiropractors are also seeing laptop injuries. Because laptops are small and portable there has to be some ergonomic drawback. The screen and keyboard are close together and this leads to people hunching and affecting the spine and nerves.  Laptops are convenient but they are not designed to enhance good posture.

Neck and shoulders

The compact design of a laptop means you are more likely to hunch over the keyboard and the screen. This head-down rounded shoulders position can lead to shoulder tension, neck-pain and headaches. Your head weighs four kilos and when you hunch over a laptop your neck and shoulder muscles have to work harder the hold up your head. Those muscles tighten and that creates a build-up of lactic acid and soreness

What to do... If you are using your laptop at a desk, with the centre of the screen level with your eyes and the keyboard set so your elbows are close to your body, stretch for one or two minutes every hour. When using the laptop elsewhere stretch for a minute every 15 minutes.  Please ask for stretch handout sheets at the front desk if you are unsure of how to. At the very least you need to  get up and move about and change position periodically.

Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI)

Although a laptop allows you to carry your computer around with you the keyboard itself is not very mobile, so you may find your hands resting in awkward positions to type. This can cause inflammation of the tendons in your fingers, hands and forearms, resulting in pain.

What to do... Do ‘prayer’ stretches every hour. Squeeze your palms together with your elbows bent. Push the heels of your hands down and feel the underside of your forearm stretching. Then put the backs of your hands together and push upwards until you feel a stretch in the backs of your wrists. Next, put one hand in front of you and grab your fingertips with the other hand. Gently stretch your fingers backwards.   

Spine and Nerves

When your spine is hunched over your laptop for prolonged periods, your spinal muscles begin to stiffen, putting other spinal structures, vertebral joints and discs under tension . This may eventually lead to arthritis and nerve damage. Your spine has three natural curves that act like a spring, but when we work at a laptop our neck curve straightens and affects that spring-like mechanism. Your discs have to deal with extra pressure and they may begin to break down, a process called spinal degeneration. The discs help push the bones in your spine apart and there is a small hole between the bones for your nerves. When the discs are under pressure, that hole becomes smaller and the nerves can be irritated. This can lead to neck pain, numbness, pins and needles, and some muscle wastage in the upper limbs that make carrying out simple tasks such as driving or holding a toothbrush difficult.

What to do... Download a reminder program on your computer that will remind you to stretch regularly.  Also talk to Ailsa and Doug about more stretches and changes that you can make personally to ensure that your laptop doesn’t become a health hazard.

Adapted from Good Health Magazine









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