It’s getting to that point in the semester where I have a perpetual pain in my neck. The first time I encountered this pain was a couple years ago, and I convinced myself I had scoliosis, a brain tumor, and other debilitating problems.
However, I went to the doctor and he told me I had simply strained the muscle and muscle spasms were causing the pain. The reason? Most likely the hours spent hunching over my laptop. How could the machine I love so dearly be hurting me so badly? Life is not fair, that’s why.
If a journalist asked me how much time I spent on my computer per day, I wouldn’t answer the question for fear of ending up the source of a headline like, “Girl Wasted Entire Life on Laptop” or “22-Year-Old Has Never Seen Daylight.” Because it’s not my fault I spend so much time here. I take notes, write papers, research, read and do most everything for class on my laptop. My jobs are Internet-based. I don’t have a television, I have Netflix and Hulu accounts.
If your laptop has also betrayed you by way of neck or shoulder pain, you may benefit from my laborious research journey in making the pain go away.
The easiest, quickest remedy: pills! Ibuprofen, aspirin, and other over-the-counter pain relievers work at first, but there is a rumor that you can build up a tolerance, making the pills less effective. Another minus: taking pain relievers every day can be bad for your health via damage to your intestinal lining and liver. Doctors may also prescribe a muscle relaxer to stop muscle spasms. In my experience, these do more harm than good. Muscle relaxers make me tired and groggy, and can’t really do much for you if you’re not changing the bad behavior. Overall, I think pills work quickly, but don’t offer any long-term solution.
Stretch it out: Looking for a more natural remedy? Me too. Yoga instructor to the stars Tara Stiles has a YouTube channel with some really effective yoga stretches for shoulder and neck pain. Stretching out the muscle and realigning the neck has helped me some, but my biggest problem is remembering to do the stretches regularly.
Better posture: Use a mouse with your opposite hand and get a laptop stand. I don’t know what it is about laptops, but I sit like a couch goblin when I’m using them. It’s a lot better to sit up straight, open up your chest, and keep the screen at eye-level so you’re not straining your neck by staring down.
Taking a break: Find time to take a break from the technology. If you’re really busy, this can be difficult. However, it’s good to at least take five-minute breaks, get up, walk around, stretch or do some push-ups or something else every hour or two. Your body and eyes will thank you.
My search for a solution to the pain my computer use causes me is not over, and actually, my neck and shoulder are in pain as I type this (although I’m sitting on the floor like a goblin, so I guess it’s my fault). Do you have solutions I haven’t thought of that work better? Send them to me or comment online!
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