4 Ways Technology Is Injuring Your Body
You probably already know that your cell phone can be a pain in the neck. (And back. And shoulder.) It’s something that both researchers and doctors alike have been noticing for the past five years or so. But fast forward to today: Are our texting/Snapchatting/selfie-taking habits getting any healthier?
Probably not, says Jocelyn Szeto, MD, a primary care sports medicine physician with the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston and the Memorial Hermann Ironman Sports Medicine Institute at Texas Medical Center. In fact, if Hoda Kotb’s “selfie elbow” is any indication of our progress, it seems like we’re finding totally new ways to injure ourselves.
It’s hard to know exactly how many people suffer from tech-related aches—“the incidence rate is still underreported,” says Dr. Szeto—but she sees plenty of people who are bothered by tight tendons and overuse injuries.
The culprit, she says, is pretty much one thing: repetition, repetition, repetition. Problem is, we not only text, type, and selfie often, we also do so without really noticing it, she says. Time to change that. Here are four tech-related injuries to be aware of, and ways to ward them off.
Selfies are all about finding the best angle for your face, not your joints: With our arms stuck out in front of us and our elbows held at an awkward angle—sometimes for 10 to 15 seconds at a time—"it's not a very ergonomic position,” says Dr. Szeto.
The problem: Taking tons of selfies can strain one of the forearm muscles that helps stabilize your arm. And when you use that muscle too often, tiny microtears form around the part of it that connects to the elbow joint, causing inflammation. “It’s the same muscles that are affected in ‘tennis elbow,’” she says.
The fix: Scale back on the selfies, which should give your muscles a much-needed break. Alternating your camera hand can help, too. (Or you can always ask a friend to take the picture for you.)
RELATED: 6 Ways Your Mobile Devices Are Hurting Your Body
Whether you’re a stickler about cleaning out your inbox, still playing Candy Crush, or are just really active on Tinder, you can trigger an overuse injury by repetitively swiping your thumb.
The problem: Scrolling, swiping, typing—your thumb is probably doing way more work than you give it credit for. And repeatedly moving your thumb in the same manner can cause inflammation in the tendons in your thumbs. (Dr. Szeto notes that this can also occur in the tendons of a person’s forefinger, which is often used for typing on a tablet or phone.)
The fix: Taking a break every few minutes or so to rest your fingers and thumb can help prevent overuse. Try switching up your typing fingers too.
Any hand-held mobile device can cause posture problems, but it’s hard to hold a tablet in an ergonomically friendly way, says Szeto. Most people hold their tablets too low—i.e., resting on their laps or propped against their thighs.
The problem: When you look down at your tablet screen, you’re also transferring more pressure to your upper spine; when that happens, your neck muscles have to work overtime to support your head, upping the odds that you’ll strain those muscles.
The fix: If you’re watching a video clip, prop up your tablet on a table at eye level; if you’re typing, try to use the device in the same way you’d use a desktop computer (as much as possible anyway). For example, use a keyboard and place the screen on your desk at eye level. And take a break every few minutes, says Dr. Szeto.
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The empty space about the fireplace mantle is an aesthetically-pleasing spot for a flatscreen. But it means you’re constantly craning your neck to watch your favorite shows.
The problem: When you look up at a TV, your neck is “hyperextended”— medical speak for “bent in an awkward position.” And since that puts extra stress on your neck muscles, you could wind up with a sore neck. (More incentive to move the TV to a more ergonomically-ideal place: Americans spend almost three hours a day in front of the tube, according to statistics from the Bureau of Labor.)
The fix: You should always put the TV at eye level, says Dr. Szeto, so you're looking straight ahead. This way, your neck and spine will be in the “neutral position”—i.e., you won’t have to lift or twist it to see the screen. Think of it like this: “No one fights to sit in the front row when they go to the movies,” Dr. Szeto points out. Besides, whose family room actually looks HGTV-ready in real life?
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How to Survive a Quarter-Life Crisis and Find Your True Purpose
During my quarter-life crisis, I felt paralyzed to make a change. I felt like I was at the intersection of hopeless, stuck, and FOMO (or fear of missing out).
I said to myself, “I hate my job and I want to do something else, but I don’t know where to start. I’m interested in so many things, but none of them seem perfect. All my friends on Facebook are so happy and successful. My friend is a Forbes 30 Under 30. My buddy is traveling around Thailand. My friend just got engaged. I’m tired of being single. I’m a failure.”
Everything feels impossible during a quarter-life crisis, even small decisions like which shampoo to buy, or which show to watch on Netflix.
But the five simple steps below helped me get through that period of intense confusion—and eventually, find my true purpose. I hope these tips will be helpful as you discover yours.
Stop the comparisons
Social media has made it all but impossible to avoid comparing yourself to others. We see only the coolest parts of our friends’ lives, like when they get a new job, fall in love, or travel somewhere beautiful. We think, “Wow, I really need to get my act together.” All of us are figuring it out, even our friends whose Instagram grass looks really green. All of us are on different paths, with no right or wrong answer. Comparing yourself to others is a waste of time. Stop worrying about what other people think and start figuring out what you want.
RELATED: Elizabeth Gilbert Shares Her Secrets to Living a More Creative Life
Pursue what’s meaningful to you
If you want to turn your quarter-life crisis into a breakthrough, you have to stop focusing on everyone else’s noise, and start asking yourself why you’re here. What do you care most about? What do you want to do for the world? What are you really good at? What types of people do you want to surround yourself with? How much money do you need to live your desired lifestyle? I call this finding alignment between who you are and how you’re spending your days.
Turn your doubt into action
When I was stuck in my old job, fear of the unknown often kept me up all night. This doubt never really goes away, but I’ve learned that we can turn our doubts into research, into positive energy that takes us closer to our next lily pad. If you write your doubts and fears on paper, you can begin to take tangible action steps toward figuring out what’s next in your life. This might mean reading a book that interests you, signing up for a class, launching a crowdfunding campaign for a creative project, starting a blog, attending a cool conference or event, traveling somewhere you always wanted to go, having coffee with a mentor, or pursuing an apprenticeship or volunteer opportunity that excites you.
Find a community of people who believe in the beauty of your dreams
Surviving a quarter-life crisis is the result of both hard work and finding the right people to support your journey. You can’t do it alone. Building a community of believers is the difference between your breakthrough being a dream and a dream come true. So, start finding people who make you better. People who inspire you; who are creative, who are living for others, who hold you accountable. Depending on where you live, believers might be easy or incredibly difficult to find. Attend conferences, ask your network for ideas, and use social media to find local meet-up groups based on your interests.
RELATED: 8 Promises Every Woman Should Make to Herself
Practice weekly self-care rituals
When I was stuck in my quarter-life crisis, overworked and stressed, I definitely wasn’t taking care myself—and I got shingles! I didn’t give myself time to eat well, see friends, meditate, write in my journal, or exercise. If you don’t take care of your body, it’s nearly impossible to reach your goals or help anyone else reach theirs. Finding your purpose doesn’t translate to applying to as many to jobs online as you possibly can. Finding your purpose means spending time doing the things you love, with the people you love most. It also means learning how to be kind to yourself. So, what are three things you can do to be kind to yourself this week? Think about ways you can treat yourself, take care of yourself, and create yourself.
If you’re lucky, practicing self-love might even bring you closer to the purpose you’ve been searching for.
Adapted from The Quarter-Life Breakthrough: Invent Your Own Path, Find Meaningful Work, and Build a Life That Matters by Adam Smiley Poswolsky, available from TarcherPerigee/Penguin Random House. Subscribe for more career resources at smileyposwolsky.com.
The Upper Limit of Human Lifespan May Be 125 Years, Study Suggests
WEDNESDAY, Oct. 5, 2016 (HealthDay News) — Hoping science might help you live to be 200? Sorry, new research suggests that might now be impossible.
U.S. researchers pored over the data on human longevity and concluded that people's life spans may have nearly hit their limit.
That doesn't mean more people won't be living to very old ages—just probably not much beyond the record age of 122, the researchers said.
"Further progress against infectious and chronic diseases may continue boosting average life expectancy, but not maximum life span," said study senior author Jan Vijg, chair of genetics at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City.
As the researchers noted, average life expectancy has risen substantially since the 19th century due to improvements in diet, public health and other areas.
For example, babies born in the United States today can expect to live until age 79, while the average life expectancy for those born in 1900 was only 47 years, the study authors said.
And since the 1970s, the ages of the oldest people worldwide have also increased. A French woman named Jeanne Calment, who died in 1997, had the longest documented life span of any person in history at 122 years.
In the new review, Vijg's team tracked data from the Human Mortality Database, which looks at statistics on deaths and other population data from more than 40 countries.
The researchers found that the percentage of people who lived to enjoy old age kept climbing from 1900 onward.
However, for people who made it to the 100-year mark, survival after that birthday didn't really budge much, regardless of what year the person was born. Their age at death did rise a bit between the 1970s and early 1990s, but seems to have leveled out since then, the study found.
"This finding indicates diminishing gains in reducing late-life mortality and a possible limit to human life span," Vijg said in a school news release.
So, based on current data, his team believes the average maximum human life span is 115 years, and that the absolute limit of human life span will be 125 years.
And the probability of any one person worldwide reaching age 125 in a given year is less than one in 10,000, Vijg and his colleagues said.
"Demographers as well as biologists have contended there is no reason to think that the ongoing increase in maximum life span will end soon," Vijg said. "But our data strongly suggest that it has already been attained and that this happened in the 1990s.
"While it's conceivable that therapeutic breakthroughs might extend human longevity beyond the limits we've calculated, such advances would need to overwhelm the many genetic variants that appear to collectively determine the human life span," he explained.
"Perhaps resources now being spent to increase life span should instead go to lengthening 'health span'—the duration of old age spent in good health," Vijg added.
The study was published online Oct. 5 in the journal Nature.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on life expectancy.