Published: August 28, 2011
Before I get too far into the core of this column, I had better explain something to the younger readers.
This may sound unbelievable, but things like computers, cell phones, GPS, and even remote controls haven’t always existed.
Not that long ago in the grand scope of history, people did things in amazingly archaic ways.
If we wanted to go somewhere we had never been before, we looked at a paper map.
We learned how to interpret the squiggly lines and coded numbers and determined the route that would take us to our destination.
If we were watching one of the three available networks on television and wanted to change the channel, we got up, crossed the room, and turned the dial.
We may have even adjusted the two thin metallic poles that served as our television antenna. (Or in most homes, that is what kids were for… to change the channels.)
If we wanted to make a telephone call, we went into the kitchen and literally dialed the number. We had to insert one finger into an actual rotary dial and turn it.
Doesn’t that sound tedious? And get this … we had to stay in the kitchen.
The phone was attached to the wall.
If someone wanted to type a document, they used a typewriter.
The thing didn’t even have batteries! You had to actually insert a piece of paper into it for it to work! And if you made a mistake… well, you might as well just start over.
In the event you desired to add, subtract or multiply, you reached for a pencil and paper.
Calculators did not exist.
For students in advanced math classes that might involve such entities as square roots, the instrument of choice would have been a slide rule.
I don’t have room to begin to explain a slide rule in this column.
It will be listed in the antiquities of mathematical instruments next to the abacus.
Fast forward to today, where most of us spend a considerable amount of time staring at some sort of illuminated screen to retrieve or manipulate information.
Or perhaps just to amuse ourselves while we wait for some interminable delay such as a traffic light.
Our world has changed, but our bodies have not.
Although our work and leisure activities involve a considerable amount of time sitting in a static position immobilized before a backlit LCD or LED screen, our bodies are really suited to more dynamic activities.
In order to accomplish anything with a computer, smartphone, iPad, Xoom, or any other device, it is essential to practically freeze a major portion of our body in a perpetually attentive state.
Our eyes move a little, and perhaps our thumbs or fingers, but the rest of our body is contracted into a fixed state of inertness.
What do you think happens to your muscles when this is going on?
If you replied that they lock into a contracted state, you are correct.
Once you have maintained a fixed level of muscle contraction for a period of time, the muscle locks in a contracted mode from which it is not easily disrupted.
That is where those knots in your shoulders come from.
Oh, and that tender point on the outside of your right arm just below the elbow… that’s from using a mouse.
Go ahead, press it.
Owww! Now press the left one.
Not as tender? That’s because you use a mouse with your right hand all day.
By holding you arm in a steady position so that you can manipulate the mouse with dexterity, the same thing happens to the arm muscles near the elbow… contracture.
To reduce the consequences of these potentially injurious habits, make it a point to step away from the computer regularly, perform some stretches or exercises that offset the static posture of computer use.
If you still have pain, numbness or tingling, a chiropractor can help. MP
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Next week: Some exciting news about an emerging technology to treat pain.
Don’t miss it.