Over the past few years it appears that everyone is wearing or using a fitness tracker such as Fitbit, Jawbone or other types of movement counters. These tools or trackers are great motivating tools for individuals who are just starting their fitness journeys as well as for the highly engaged athletes. They are especially fun for those individuals who like a little competition. However, could these fitness trackers be causing you some pain in the process?
For me personally, I would say yes, they can cause pain. But no, I’m not saying that the actual tracker caused it. Instead, the use of the tracker and my unconscious overcompensation with my lateral movements on one side of my body led to my pain.
For over a year, I have been happily wearing and using a Fitbit Flex to track my activity level as well as my water consumption. During this time, my friends and I have enjoyed many weekly or weekend competitions to help us stay motivated. Like others who use these trackers, it was certainly eye-opening to see how much or how little you actually move each day.
Around the holidays though, I started experiencing some left shoulder pain. It wasn’t constant pain and it wasn’t enough for me to take any OTC medicine to help manage it. But about a month ago, the pain started becoming more consistent and frankly bothersome. I still continued with yoga and my other exercise routines hoping it would help alleviate the issues, but it didn’t. I finally went to see a chiropractor, Dr. Ashley Staple, at Family First Chiropractic. (She is amazing, by the way.) During my treatments we discussed the possibility of me overcompensating on my right side because I was not using my left side as often. After several days of carefully monitoring my body alignment during work, and while carrying things, I realized she was right. In fact, I developed a bad habit of carrying everything on my right side because I was wearing the tracker on my left arm and knew that it didn’t always pickup my movement unless I was ‘swinging my arm’. I even realized that I was using my right hand or arm for almost all activities, so that my left arm was ‘free’ to move.
It didn’t take me long to switch my Fitbit over to my right arm, and after a few adjustments, some physical therapy exercises, and a conscious effort to monitor my body position and alignment, my shoulder pain has diminished.
So, let me be very clear. My Fitbit did NOT cause me pain. But I believe that my perfectionist behavior for my tracker to capture every single step or movement may have contributed to it.
To help you avoid possible discomfort with your fitness tracker, follow these steps.
- Your fitness tracker will not track every single movement…so get over it!
- Walk, move, exercise, or play like you normally would. Do not try to overcompensate.
- Switch your tracker to the other arm occasionally if you need to (just be sure to edit your profile).
- Make sure you are reaping the benefits of the tracker. If the one you have isn’t working for you, try a different version or type.
- The goal is to modify your activity level and make positive behavioral change. In fact, you may get to a point where you don’t need to use it anymore. Yay for you!
In conclusion, fitness or activity trackers are incredibly helpful tools and resources to help us improve our overall health. At any time though, if you find that you are having a problem with the tracker or find that you are physically reacting or behaving negatively with the use of the wearable, consider what your goals are and if the particular device you are using is appropriate. Simply adjusting how you are using or wearing the device may be all the change you need.
Note: At any time you have a health-related problem, always consult your primary care physician or care provider for a professional opinion.
All pics other than Fitbit results are Pixabay.