We do it at home, at work, at school – while waiting for coffee, to look up a recipe, to text a friend. Nowadays, what is more pervasive than technology use? With the average person spending 5 hours every day on their phone (Andrews, Ellis, Shaw, & Lukasz, 2015), many are also noticing the adverse effects technology can have on their bodies.

The Risks

Adults, teenagers and children alike can experience pain, soreness or discomfort as a result of technology use. This pain or discomfort is typically the result of repetitive strain injuries (RSIs). RSIs are injuries of the musculoskeletal and nervous systems that are often caused by repetitive tasks, forceful exertions, vibrations, mechanical compression (pressing against hard surfaces), or sustained or awkward positions.

For example, you may have heard of “text neck”, a term used to describe the pain resulting from looking down at devices too often, and for too long. Often people will hunch over their devices, which causes a rounding of the shoulders and the head to hang forward and down. If you look at your profile and notice that the hole of your ear does not line up vertically over your shoulder, you may have text neck. Over time, this can cause chronic headaches, as well as shoulder and neck pain. The risk of long-term impact is particularly high with children and teenagers, whose bodies are
still developing.

Extensive technology use can also be felt in the hands, wrists and sometimes arms of the user. This can present as pain, weakness, numbness, tenderness or tingling. Common injuries associated with technology use includes tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome and cubital tunnel syndrome, resulting from using and tensing your fingers, hands and wrists to use/hold devices, as well as leaning your elbow(s) on hard surfaces for extended periods of time.


Strong posture is particularly important in battling the adverse effects of technology use. Strong posture isn’t just sitting up straight. Strong posture is about muscle strength and balance, flexibility and how your body responds to the demands of gravity.

Luckily, there are many things that you can do to feel better and strengthen your posture:

1. Take breaks.

Every 20 or 30 minutes, put down your device and walk around, get a drink or stretch.

2. Get moving.

Make sure you exercise every day. Aim for one hour of activity. If you aren’t involved in any sports or activities, try taking a walk, riding your bike or going for a swim. Visit the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines for ideas on how to stay active.

3. Sit up straight.

When you spend a lot of time sitting, make sure that your back is straight, your abdominal muscles are engaged, your chest is out and your shoulders are back.

4. Look up.

Instead of leaning your gaze down towards your tablet or phone, lift your head, tuck your chin and bring your device up to eye level.

5. Don’t let yourself hang.

If your arms are tired and you have to look down at your device, tuck your chin into your neck instead of hanging your head forward.

6. Stretch it out.

Visit www.straightenupalberta.com for an easy, quick daily stretching routine. You can also practice the following hand, shoulder and neck stretches whenever you feel pain or discomfort.


Hands & Wrists

• Open hands, stretching your fingers far out and then close them, squeezing tight.

• Turn your arm upside down, then with your other hand, gently pull your fingers toward your body.

• Play with stress balls, putty/clay, magnetic sand, clothespins, building blocks, etc.

• Set up tissue paper on a table, put your hands flat on the paper and scrunch them into balls (use regular paper or construction paper as your hands get stronger).

• Tap your thumb against each individual finger.

Neck, Shoulders & Chest

• Keeping your chin parallel to your chest, slide your head back.

• Roll your shoulders backwards and forwards.

• Lay your head and back against the wall and gently tuck your chin into your neck, trying to touch the back of your neck to the wall.

• Stand up straight with arms down at your side, and turn forearms outwards until thumbs are pointing at the wall behind, then pull your arms up gently.


If you suspect you are suffering from a technology use-related injury, visit your chiropractor or other health professional for a diagnosis and treatment recommendations.