Are work stress, poor posture, and sleep deprivation issues for you? Is your smartphone causing your neck pain?
Over-Worked and ‘Always On’
In days long gone most people left work at the office and went home to relax, do housework, see friends, and spend time with the family. The rapid acceptance of iPhones, tablets, and smartphones into the daily work regime now means that a culture of connectivity has arisen and it is rare to actually step away from the virtual office. Being ‘always on’ means that many people have lost the ability to simply relax and, despite being at the actual office less, now work longer hours than ever before.
Smartphones and Neck Pain
Working at home for a couple of hours in the evening might not be so bad if it were just an occasional thing when a big project is due. However, for many people this has become a daily habit and is a potential trigger for neck pain. If you work whilst slouching on the sofa, take your iPad to bed, or even half-heartedly stir a simmering stew whilst twisting your neck to read that riveting report on your tablet it could be that neck pain is about to catch up with you. Obvious causes of neck pain such as poor posture and muscle strain are not the only worries here; taking work home also reduces the time available to buy and cook nutritious food, reduces relaxation time, and can cause stress-related illness and heightened pain sensitivity after sleep disruption. Conditions which can cause neck pain, such as fibromyalgia, are often associated with overwork and stress and are commonly exacerbated by sleep-deprivation and anxiety.
Handheld Devices and Neck PainDr Helena Johnson also noted that the use of handheld devices means that people are less conscious of their posture and so your smartphone is a potential neck pain trigger. We all know we should adopt a good posture at our desks but it is all too easy to forget that when working on the commute home or using your smartphone whilst stuck in traffic or lying in bed. The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy warns that office workers are risking their health by working on smartphones, tablets, and even laptops, have become ‘screen-slaves’, and are at risk of developing back and neck pain due to poor posture when working outside of the office.
Switching Off and Wising Up to Neck Pain from Smartphones
A survey carried out in 2010 by the society revealed that nearly two-thirds of office workers questioned carried on working outside office hours, often using handheld devices for an additional two hours or more. Unions have called for office workers to switch off their smartphones but this is problematized as many people use a single device for both work and recreation, hence always being connected.
Neck Pain? There’s An App For That
While the physiotherapists and unions are calling for office workers to talk to their managers if they are repeatedly taking work home it might also be a good idea to establish a work-zone in which proper posture can be adhered to when forced to put in an extra few hours. If nothing else there are apps that can send you posture-check reminders, so maybe your smartphone is causing your neck pain but it could also help you improve your posture for neck pain relief.