When it comes to texting, you may not be in the same league as teens (a recent Nielsen Company reports says teens send and receive an average of 1,742 messages a month!), but as texting becomes more and more a part of our lives, the inevitable has started to happen: Overuse injuries.
Ergonomic experts say that the strains and pains of texting and using other handheld devices such as iPads are quite similar to those seen in repetitive computer use—carpal tunnel, eye strain, and neck and back pain. Here are some tips for those of us (and you know who you are) who just can’t put the smartphone down.
- Vary the hand and digits you use, for example alternating between fingers to give the thumbs a break.
- Reduce your keystrokes—find shortcuts and keep your messages as brief as possible.
- Orient your hands into a neutral posture. The wrists should be relatively straight; avoid twisting them into odd angles, which will only cause additional stress to the hand and forearm muscles.
- Look for mobile devices with wider keyboards that give you more motion flexibility.
- Align your head directly over your shoulders. Each inch that your head is forward places approximately 25 pounds more of stress on the neck and spine.
- Take regular breaks to let your body recover. If you feel pain, STOP and rest.
Five Easy Exercises
To limber up your texting muscles and help prevent injuries, try these exercises:
- Tap each finger with the thumb of the same hand (5 times).
- Pull your thumb firmly with the other hand.
- Tap the palm and back of your hand on your thigh as quickly as you can (20 times).
- Reach both arms up high and shake your hands. Reach both arms down low and shake your hands (3 times).
- Put your arms at 45-degree angles and squeeze them behind you.
Mary Ellen Sullivan is a Chicago-based freelance writer who writes frequently about the arts, music, travel and women’s issues, with a specialty in health care for more than 27 years. She is the author of the best-selling book “Cows on Parade in Chicago,” several travel guides, and has been published in The New York Times, The Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Sun-Times, Woman’s Day, For Me, Vegetarian Times, Booklist and other publications.
Image © Imagezoo.
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