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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

When technology strikes back!

This post is not running related, training related, vegan recipe related (I need to post more recipes!) or anything to do with hair, but I had to share.

For Christmas 2011 I was gifted with a Kindle Fire.

It was such an odd gift because I am really not into technology. Or, more accurately, ever since my Macbook Pro broke on me after only 3 years of use. 

(i.e. "planned obsolescence" Click here or here for more info on that. Definitely check out youtube as well!) 

My attitude towards technology became cynical.

I refused to purchase another Mac product and the iPod nano I have was another gift. The computer I'm currently using to type this post was a gift as well. 

I sold my TV last year and my cellphone is basic. It does have a camera, which tempted me to throw it away, but I guess I need one in this day and age.

So when I got the Kindle Fire I was thankful (it's the thought that counts) but had no idea what I was going to do with it. 

With the purchase came a 1-month free trial of Amazon Prime. It allows you to watch all the free movies and TV shows you want. I'm no dummy. I took advantage of it.

After that month was over my Kindle Fire pretty much just collected dust. I'd use it when the hubby was on the computer doing some work and I wanted to check my email or watch some youtube hair videos. But that was it.

Since I've been on vacation I've noticed that I have a lot of free time that I need to use up. There's only so many videos on youtube to watch in day, only so much running I can do, and, finally, only so many movies I can watch.

With all this free time I rediscovered the novelty of my Kindle Fire. I started downloading tons of free books. These were books that I would never buy in "real" life like: 

  • romantic novels
  • thrillers and even
  •  fantasy 

I would read on that device for hours. I was having a good time.

Up until I started having this localized pain on the left-side of my upper back, right between the shoulder blades. Not only did I have that pain but I also had a painful burning sensation in my chest, above my left breast, whenever I would move. 

That pain progressed into:

  • shoulder pain
  • neck pain
  • pain at the base of my neck 
  • even pain behind my ear

My first thought was to google my symptoms and, of course, the first thing I thought was that I was having a heart attack! 

Now, it seemed pretty unlikely because of my age and my lifestyle but that's what google told me! Suffice to say I was freaking out until I really started thinking about the type of pain. 

When I would stretch it seemed to give me some type of relief and I didn't have shortness of breath, dizziness or nausea. All symptoms that are related to heart attacks. So I did some more digging.

Apparently, having your arms extended for long periods of time, or in my case, having your shoulders rolled forward or pulled up, can cause pain in the trapezius muscle. These same activities can cause your chest muscles (pectoralis) to shorten and thus cause upper back pain.

This is the trapezius muscle.

As you can see, these are the parts of the body that are affected by the trapezius muscle.

Now, I'm no doctor, but basically the chest and back muscles are connected. Who would have known? Not me!

Long story short: my extended time on the Kindle Fire was proving disastrous to my muscle health. 

Once I found out the root of the problem I stopped using the Kindle Fire immediately. Right now I'm thinking of limiting the time I use it to 30 minutes a day. 

When I do use it, I will make sure not to round my shoulders or have my head down for the entire time. 

I will practice proper posture (as much as I can anyway)!

To help loosen up my muscles I perform stretches everyday that help to lengthen the chest muscles. As well as stretches for the trapezius muscle.

The moral of the story: 

  • Be careful when using technology, specifically computers and tablets!
  •  Don't use them for extended periods of time
  • Make sure you have proper posture 
  • Stretch when you are done. 
  • If you feel any pain definitely stop and stretch

While I'm still suffering from pain in those areas I know I won't make the same mistake again. It will take some time to fully alleviate the pain. But at least I'm not exacerbating the situation because I now know what caused it.

Listen to your body!


  1. You are so right! I get all cramped up sometimes when I'm using the computer at home (because I sit in weird positions on the couch and not in a proper chair like at work). But even so, it's good to take note of our posture in general-- sometimes when I run and feel stressed about a particular workout, I find myself running with my shoulders all hunched up and then my neck hurts like crazy!

    1. Yea, posture is so important but I'm too lazy about it! When I remember to worry about it I correct it. lol. I'm feeling a lot better though.

  2. I love this post! I've been struggling with back issues, neck pain and wrist/arm problems for the last 6 months. Basically 3 months after I started my current job. I now have carpel tunnel and ulnar neuropathy and I see the chiropractor on a regular basis. Our bodies were just not meant for desk jobs!!

    1. Wow Sprina! That's the worst. I've suffered from lower back pain before stemming from not stretching enough, stress, and over-working my body. It's crazy but everyone goes through some sort of back pain in their lives. Chema even suffers from some kind of pain in his "lumbago," which I guess is just a fancy word for the lower back.