Unfortunately, something your staff are gradually succumbing to!
The incidence of Silicon Valley Syndrome in Singapore’s working population is 80-90% so, in all likelihood, this probably means that this is something that is developing in your company.
When we first saw this condition back in the 90s in Northern California, we named it Silicon Valley Syndrome. Now it is world-wide; you can call it ‘Text-Neck’, ‘Turkey-Neck’ or ‘Hunchback’. We can also call it ‘Computer Posture’ but it’s all semantics. They are all the same thing and it is everywhere you look. Chances are…you’ve got it too!
How Does It Feel?
Many of you will immediately recognise the symptoms. A stiff neck and tight shoulders. Not the shoulder joint itself but that bit on the top edge of the shoulder blade. Sometimes it goes down the spine and it makes you feel old. It makes you wriggle about at your work station…takes your eye off the ball. You know what I mean!
It improves at the weekends but settling back at your workstation it worsens with every hour at your screen. Often you will rub and poke and try to get your fingers into the muscles to make them release. Occasionally you rotate your neck and windmill your arms. It may give you a little relief, but not for long. Some of you will get that burning feeling across the upper back and now it’s only a matter of time before the numbing sensation or those dreadful pins and needles appear in the fingers or spread down the arm. This is a major reason for staff disconnecting from their daily mission – they are simply uncomfortable in their own bodies and it is hugely distracting.
What about function?
That’s being lost too, I’m afraid. Is it becoming harder to pull something over your head, perhaps your polo or a sweater, or maybe that bra strap is starting to cause problems? What about reversing the car? This stiffening surely isn’t good and it definitely makes you feel old before your time. It certainly doesn’t make you feel like work!
They say that 40 is the new 30, then why at 30 do office workers often feel 50? And just why can’t they turn their neck like before? And those recurring headaches! Why is the Panadol not working like before?
Well, welcome to working life in Singapore. Your pain goes with those twelve hour working days….and it IS telling you something.
Is it stress? That’s what they tell you it is. Well, it’s not the stress you’re thinking about. It’s actually physical stress mostly. The greatest stress on the body is the physical stress of gravity acting on a slouching spine.
Of course we are designed to live in gravity, ask NASA – you can’t live without it. But you must be aligned for efficiency or there’s going to be trouble. That’s where many of your people are headed. All that stiffness is the accumulation of gravitational forces after years of slouching at their computer.
So what is Silicon Valley Syndrome and why is it becoming such a problem?
Well, basically your head is creeping forward on your shoulders as you slouch at your screen hour after hour. Your neck is straightening and the weight of your head has moved forward onto the discs. Disc degeneration is starting and eventual structural failure is what your body is concerned about, hence the pain. The head is becoming heavier due to leverage and physics and the shoulder muscles have to cope. Your body will try everything to protect its nerves and as the spinal cord comes under tension and the delicate nerves that leave your spine between the vertebrae are pinched, stretched and twisted, the muscles are instructed to tighten even more to immobilize or splint. Gradually the muscles will lose their elasticity and reduced function becomes permanent.
Worryingly, the symptoms can be far reaching because the nervous system controls everything. Digestive disorders are extremely common, headaches and dizziness of course, depressed immunity and reduced vital capacity (breathing).
A quick posture test for you
Push your head forward into really bad posture and take a deep breath. Now pull your head back onto your shoulder, standing tall and take a deep breath. Feel the difference? This is your brain stem being stressed and breathing being restricted. Imagine it like this all the time, the loss of oxygen supply to your cells, organs and tissues. Think – did you ever see anyone with poor posture running up a flight of stairs? Probably not! Look at the postures of your staff……what do you see?
And why so much fatigue? Well, this incessant muscle contraction is an enormous waste of energy. The muscles just don’t let go – ever! Well that’s just what is going on across the top of their back and shoulders. This IS what is causing their fatigue and a good reason for them waking up exhausted each morning.
If you don’t do anything, what’s next?
Arthritis is next I’m afraid – premature spinal aging. Over 80% will get spinal arthritis. It is mostly due to vertebrae or back bones becoming locked up. The vertebrae begin to change their shape as bone spurs form. These irritate the surrounding tissues and will eventually block the nerves. That tingling down the arms tells us that nerves are being irritated; numbness means the nerves are being pinched. A medical emergency is on the way and pain tells us that the body is worried.
What are the solutions for Silicon Valley Syndrome?
The first and most important thing is to recognise the problem as without this there can be no healthy change. Perhaps print this article off and distribute to your computer operators. Perhaps invite us in to do a FREE Posture & Health Talk.
Still a skeptic?- If my words above don’t resonate or ring true, it doesn’t make them less true. Let us help you and your good people. We can come to you or you can send your staff to us, whatever works. We have helped literally thousands with these problems and our success is exceptional.
We all have but one life. It is ours to get the most out of, and our spines will determine how we are going to age. No regrets later! We urge you to take a proactive approach with your health and that of your employees.
Dr Tim Errington, Total Health Chiropractic, Singapore +65 6224 6326