Have you been using a smartphone or tablet more often, instead of a desktop computer? Working on the go may lead to certain types of injuries due to a mismatch between mobile technology and our interface with it.
Case in point: Text messaging has been common for years and initially medical clinicians saw an uptick in repetitive strain injuries of the hand. Pain related to handheld devices was amusingly named “BlackBerry thumb” or “teen texting tendinitis.” But it was no joke. Patients suffered weakness, throbbing, and “popping” from inflamed muscles and tendons of the thumb and wrist, requiring cortisone injections or even surgery. We quickly learned to lighten up, write short, and take breaks.
Now there’s a new scourge associated with the use of a smartphone, tablet, or other small devices: “Text neck.” Caretakers and physical therapists say patients complain of headaches, muscle strain and pinched nerves. Frequently bending your neck for long periods to look at a device can even lead to spinal degeneration.
Technology usage rates are skyrocketing across the globe, according to Pew Research Center. In addition to texting, other favorite activities include social networking, watching videos, and listening to music/podcasts. In fact, two-thirds of Americans now own mobile devices, spending an average of 3-5 hours a day on them.
The ergonomic remedy?
1.-Use good posture, keeping your head upright. The average adult head weighs 10 to 12 pounds, which equals the weight of a bowling ball. When you tilt your head forward 60 degrees, the weight your neck must support surges to 60 pounds, about the weight of an 8-year-old child!
2.-Adjust the screen height and angle of your device for optimal viewing. When a desk is available, attach an external keyboard and/or monitor for prolonged use.
3.-Switch up between sitting and standing throughout the day. If it’s not possible to alternate positions, limit leisure screen time, especially if your work is computer-intensive.
To discover more ways to use smart devices safely, download The Ergonomic Equation for Comfortable Computing which explains, in illustrations, the core principles of comfortable computing.
Or for an engaging take on the basics, watch this Ted-Ed video, The Benefits of Good Posture, and learn how to support your body in adapting to the stresses put on it.