Why laptops can be a pain in the neck

SHAFAQNA – Three quarters of Britons suffer from back pain thanks to a sedentary lifestyle that includes hours spent hunched over computer screens or slumped in front of TV. Seventy-seven per cent of us have experienced back or neck pain at some point, according to a survey by the British Chiropractic Association. Nearly a quarter of respondents said they suffered on a daily basis.

Rather than being caused by strenuous exercise or heavy lifting, however, the survey found that the two most common triggers for back and neck pain were sleeping and sitting.

“As a nation we’re becoming increasingly sedentary and struggle to switch off,” Rishi Loatey, a BCA chiropractor said. “Whether it’s sitting at a desk, hunching over a mobile device or lying in bed for too long, the effects of modern lifestyles are taking their toll.

“Four out of five people suffer lower back pain. It’s mainly to do with how long we sit for and the way we sit. Sitting places 20 times more pressure on the lower disc than lying down.”

Inactive lifestyles can cause unnecessary pain and loss of employment. A report from the Office of National Statistics in February found that more than 35 million working days a year were lost to back and neck-related problems.

The BCA survey of 2006 people found that 82 per cent of respondents spent up to six hours a day staring at a computer screen. Almost 20 per cent spent more than four hours a day watching TV, while 28 per cent said they sat down for six hours or more.

A third of us spend between two and six hours looking at a laptop computer or a tablet, while half of Britons watch TV for between two and six hours.

As part of BackCare Awareness week, the BCA has developed “Straighten Up”, a three-minute exercise programme designed to strengthen the spine and improve posture.

Mr Loatey’s tips for maintaining a healthy back and neck include sitting up straight, making sure the top of a computer screen is level with your eyebrows, taking breaks from sitting every 30 minutes, shrugging your shoulders and moving your fingers around regularly, and sleeping on your side rather than lying on your front with your neck twisted to one side.

“Your mattress should be firm but have a bit of give in it,” he said. “Hard is not necessarily the best.”

Sitters should ensure their feet touch the floor and maintain a gap between the front of the seat and their calves. Hips should be higher than their knees.

“The sort of people that I used to treat for neck pain tended to be involved in car accidents,” Mr Loatey said. “Now they are younger, from secondary school age and up, and what causes their pain is that they are using laptop computers.”

Source : http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/health/news/article4227651.ece

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