4 Negative Effects Of Prolonged Use Of The Computer And How To Prevent It

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Computers have brought us into the age of information. We can now communicate with each other in real time, despite any geographical barriers. We have near-instant access to any piece of information we need, revolutionizing the way we do business.

But for all the wonderful things that our computers have brought us, there is one small downside.

We are simply not built to spend long hours sitting at a desk. The ergonomics of computer use have some pretty serious consequences on our bodies.

Below are four different ways that prolonged use of the computer is hurting us, and what we can do about them.

1. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

We perform the same tiny motions over and over while using a keyboard or mouse. This can cause swelling in the wrist, putting pressure on the carpal tunnel. The carpal tunnel is an opening that runs from your forearm to your wrist, containing the nerve that controls your thumb and first three fingers. When this nerve is under pressure, the first carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms will occur.

According to Dr. John T Knight of the Hand and Wrist Institute, CTS is a bigger problem now than ever before. "We're seeing carpal tunnel syndrome happen at very early ages," he says, "The reason is automated technology."

The only way we can prevent this condition is by changing our usage patterns. Those of us who spend long hours working at the desk should take regular breaks to stretch and bend our wrists.

2. Forward Neck Posture

Muscles, ligaments, and fascia all work together to hold our bodies upright. We are all born with proper posture, but our bodies are very quick to adapt to a changing environment. When we sit at a computer, we tend to slouch forward.

At first, this may feel like a relaxed sitting position. Allowing our head to drop this way stretches out several muscles in your back and neck while allowing your chest to tighten. When we try to stand up straight, our back muscles have to work extra hard to tighten, and strain against the pull of the chest. This can lead to chronic neck pain and even permanent degradation of our muscles.

To prevent this condition, we need to take action before it becomes a problem. Performing daily postural stretches can help work out the tension in our muscles, allowing them to return to their natural resting position.

3. Eyestrain

Just like carpal tunnel syndrome, our eyes don't like to perform the same simple maneuvers repeatedly as we view content on our monitors. As the images on our screen change, our eyes naturally want to adjust as if we were looking out into 3D space. Combined with the increased glare, flicker, and contrast produced by our monitors, we're certainly putting our eyes under a lot of stress.

Symptoms of eyestrain can be as simple as irritation, or as advanced as double vision and headaches. This may seem like a mild inconvenience, but having to live with these symptoms every day can be a troubling experience. Fortunately, all you have to do to prevent eyestrain is a few simple exercises.

Spending even 60 seconds performing these exercises for each hour you are sitting in front of a computer screen can have a positive impact on your eye health.

4. Lumbar Strain

These types of muscle strains are the most common cause of lower back pain. Your lumbar muscles play a major role in all types of movement you perform on a daily basis. But when we sit improperly in our computer chair, our muscle fibers can be twisted in an unnatural manner. This tissue can become inflamed, significantly reducing our mobility.

Although this condition is common beyond the age of 40, our digital generation is seeing it appear in younger people. The only way that the issue can be prevented is by maintaining correct seating posture. If you find this challenging, you may want to consider sitting on an exercise ball or an ergonomic chair.