We can’t seem to put them down! Kids, young adults, parents and seniors are plugged in. We text, play games, read email, text, scroll our music list, surf the net, text, tweet, post pictures to face book and text some more –all from the palm of our hand. We do this anywhere and everywhere. Minutes add up to hours. These hours combined with awkward wrist positions, prolonged grips and repetitive micro-movements increase your chances of developing hand pain from cell phone use which could lead to tendonitis and carpel tunnel syndrome.
Our thumbs with their greater movement and ability to rotate are especially vulnerable to overuse injuries.
The American Society of Hand Therapist (ASHT) re-issued a national consumer education alert due to heavy extended us of these small, multi-feature devices. “More of the population could suffer hand ailments unless they learn to take preventive measures”.
Do you have hand problems from texting? Here are cell phone safety tips and 5 of the guidelines ASHT released to foster healthier use of handheld electronics and portable devices:
1. If you experience pain during use, STOP. Your body is letting you know you are overextending or overusing a particular muscle group. Think about what is really essential in using your device and make a conscious effort to reduce use, especially the movements that are causing pain and give your hands a chance to heal. Life will go on with a few less tweets.
2. Hold device with a neutral grip. The wrist is neither flexed nor extended when in a neutral grip but is straight and in line with the forearm. We multitask while we use our devices often putting our wrists in very awkward positions which increase the stress on the joint and tendons. Holding your smart-phone at the sides and texting with both thumbs is stressful on your wrists. Play with your technique to straighten out your wrists.
3. Take frequent breaks. ASHT recommends every few minutes. Repetitive motions can cause tendonitis in the elbow or lead to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (tendon or nerve irritation). Put the device down, shake out your hands and roll your shoulder back several times. Save your web searches and longer emails for larger keyboards .
4. Switch it up. Change which hand you use and vary the use of fingers and thumbs. Use your index finger, instead of thumb to text by holding it with the other hand or better yet putting it down on a hard surface. This reduces fatigue and overuse by letting your dominant hand, thumb or other fingers rest. This is also a great way to challenge and exercise your brain.
5. Support your arms. Place a pillow in your lap, use the chair arm rests, table or desk to support your arms or the device on. This reduces strain on your shoulders and neck also promotes a more upright position of your head.
In addition to causing ailments to our hands, we are stressing our neck and spine by having our head forward and down constantly to view our devices. In fact, a new phrase has been coined to describe the problem “Text Neck”. Check out all the helpful text neck exercises we recommend for alleviating neck pain.