The Wellness Corner: ESC, The Digital Age of Neck Pain

by Dr. Eric Blum

computerWe are in full swing of the digital age. All correspondence is now primarily virtual. This interaction between humans includes business, casual acquaintances and worse, our more intimate partners. With so much time spent in our virtual world, our physical bodies, especially our neck and back, are suffering from diseases inclusive of obesity, migraine headaches and more chronic pains due to our habitual bad postures that we hold while we are “corresponding.”

Disease Is Not Virtual

Years ago we attributed that the most unhealthy people were typically those who had careers which required hard, repetitive physical labor, repetitive activities or those who were required to travel long distances in a poor sitting position in an auto or truck. The hours, weeks, months and years with these requirements which were typically done in an unhealthy position had been one of the largest contributors to poor health rather than the first thought of impact or accident.

As the digital age became the ruler of careers and now for many, virtual lives and social connections, our time sitting in poor postures has more than tripled and so has the rise in our health problems.

These health problems range from neck pain, back pain, headaches and sciatica to the onset of many disease processes including obesity.

Although the solution of unplugging from our devices may seem simple, it is not that easy as many of our careers are dependent on them, and as long as we are not inconvenienced with a life-threatening disease, we do not action. Unfortunately, hitting the escape key at that point is not that easy.

Hard Copy Research

In a study performed at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Louisiana, a physiologist, Marc Hamilton, discovered that when he prevented lab mice from standing up, an enzyme that burns fat gets turned off, which can lead to weight gain. “This enzyme is virtually shut off within hours of not standing, entirely independent of diet, completely independent of weight changes.” Hamilton further stated, “Sitting has become the most common human behavior; literally, it outstrips the amount of time we spend sleeping.”

He further simplified by giving a similar comparison to the once very accepted practice of smoking to the “now” problem of long term sitting in improper positions due to electronic devices. The parallel being that both are commonly accepted practices that people are reluctant to see the health hazards they pose with the unfortunate reality that both are silent killers that take years to develop into life-threatening disease processes.

More hard evidence was also given in another study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology. This study showed that sitting for long stretches, more than six hours a day, can make someone at least 18 percent more likely to die from diabetes, heart disease and obesity than those sitting less than three hours a day.

The Hard Re-Boot

At our practice, we see how human behaviors and our evolution of technology has shaped our society and impacted the way we use our bodies.

Repetitive activities with poor posture are serious and going to have predictably devastating effects on our health and the health of the next generation unless we implement a change in our behaviors. As computers and the virtual world are here to stay, here are a few simple steps to help you re-boot your actions.

  • Get a standing desk or an ergonomically designed chair, preferably with a properly fitted backrest or better yet not at all.
  • Take regular breaks. Get up every 30-60 minutes to stretch for 30-60 seconds.
  • Do not sit or lounge on the sofa after your evening meal.
  • Stand, stretch or walk for 10 minutes without your handheld device. Bonus! It will also stimulate your metabolism!
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Dr. Eric Blum runs Synergy Chiropractic and Sports Rehabilitation in Westlake Village. He is also the official chiropractic consultant to the L.A. Dodgers


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