October 2, 2012

Too much Starbucks can be a pain in the neck.

I spend a lot of time in coffee shops; I love the ambience, it's conducive for my writing and research. What's more? Free internet!  But now my neck and back are suffering, they are screaming waiting to burst at the seems.
I remember overhearing a middle aged woman in conversation say "we were not this lucky when we were coming up," referring to coffee houses like Starbucks.  Today, Starbucks is one of many coffee shops that double up as lounges with free wifi. There you find different individuals, from students doing school work and research, or on Facebook, to adults working outside the office or conducting business meetings. The music genre here ranges from Jazz to Soft rock to Blues, also collectively referred to as Coffee house music.  Research establishes the fact that people are spending more time on electronic devices now than ever before.  Overtime however, there are damaging effects. With the advent of (electronic devices) posture challenges have increased, people have adapted to the hunched down, bent forward posture—according to a blog on examiner.com, resulting in serious neck strain, putting stress on the neck and upper back.

I mean, it's a real pain. Tension that runs from the nape of the neck all the way to the middle of the back and with that comes headaches and gastrointestinal changes.  It can be really bad.  Your head needs to balance it's weight on the rest of your body at all times, which means it should sit directly on your neck.  When you are in the forward head position (forward head posture as it is often referred) your head is hanging off your neck creating muscle strain as your neck and upper back must support it.  Overtime, this posture would create tension on your neck and back, your spine is distorted, and worse, disc herniation could result (lets just say this is the easiest way to create a weak back).

Do you spend a lot of time in coffee shops like me? Or maybe you are one of many that whip out your smartphone or tablet on your long commute to work?  Use your gadgets a lot? Endeavor to place them eye level.  Laptops and desktops are still best for working long periods of time, as they can be set-up on a workstation in a comfortable working position.  If you use your tablet however, you can use them with an external keyboard case that double up as a stand.  Starbucks may have the right ambiance for occasional WiFi browsing while you sip your latte, but be careful.  Be sure to always align your head on top of your neck. This can pose a challenge in some coffee shops however.  The couches might be comfortable, however, they are not workstations.  When you are sitting on the couch, you can develop the habit of leaning forward while using your tablet, smartphone or laptop; rounding your shoulders and hunching your back.  Remember when your mother used to tell you to sit up straight and pull your shoulders back?  Turns out she was on to something after all.
Remember to take a break and try these posture improving exercises.
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Pain in the neck courtesy of Blue Ridge Family Chiropractic.

1 comment:

Tyne Swedish said...

You are so right! I tend to do a great job of sitting up correctly in public places however when I'm at home and I'm on page 25 of a very tense paper I admit I do slouch a bit. I know it is horrible and when I notice it I try to correct it or call it a day.

Chao
Poppie
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