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From selfie elbow to texting thumb: How to avoid smartphone injuries

smartphone injuries

Smartphones have become a way of life and a must-have for most; from senior citizens to children, these devices aid people with learning, gaming, quick access to banking, news reports, etc. Smartphones are a medium of immediate communication and technology has enhanced the way we stay in touch with loved ones through video calls, voice chats and of course the traditional text messaging.

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With the boon of social media and spending long hours on our handsets, from getting the perfect selfie to constantly texting your clique, even though smart phones have made our lives simpler, increasing number of people have complained of finger, hand and elbow pain as a result of frequent use of devices, referring it to the ‘selfie elbow’ or the ‘texting thumb’.If you are a fervent smartphone user, here’s how you may reduce these type of injuries.

– Keeping your arm is in the same stiff position for the picture-perfect shot is not appropriate, use a selfie stick or place your elbow on something that offers support

– Alternate between using your thumbs and other fingers whenever possible, use your fingers to type and scroll as a substitute for your thumbs

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– Place your phone down on a surface if you’re texting, or else hold the phone in one hand and text with the other, instead of using only one hand

– If you are using your thumbs to type, use the pad of your thumb, as opposed to the tip of the thumb as this may create a bent position which can lead to potential injury

– Keep your wrists calm and as straight as possible. Reduce the strain on your wrists, fingers and thumbs by using a neutral grip when holding your device

– Try to maintain the phone at the level of your chest, chin or eye level to lessen the bend in your neck and to maintain optimal spinal posture. If your phone is under eye level, look down with your eyes rather than your neck

– Stay away from using the phone to one side of the body, with the neck cradling the phone stuck between your ear and shoulder – a common posture to answer calls when you are multi-tasking

– Limit your device use to 20-minutes and take a short ‘device-free break’ in between use

Also read: Touch Screen Gadgets can Cause Arthritis and Stress Injuries

Here are a few exercises you could include:

For hand, fingers and thumb

– Twist your fingers and thumb into a firm fist then straighten your fingers as far as you can go without experiencing pain

– Start with your fingers completely extended and together, now spread your fingers apart as far as you can go

For Wrist:

– Hold your arm in front of you with your elbow extended, flex the wrist frontward. Do it again with the wrist extended (Hold for 20 seconds on each side)

– Folding your fingers into your wrist, gently rotate each wrist clockwise for 15 secs. Then move the wrists anticlockwise for another 15secs

– For Neck

Use your hand to gently pull your head to the side and rotate your nose towards the same shoulder. (Hold for 20 seconds on each side)

– Lift your head towards the sky gently, breathing in, while releasing your breath move your head and neck downward. Repeat this exercise 10 times

For Shoulders:

– Turn the shoulder blade 10 times inwards and 10 times backwards

– Raise your left hand upward and rotate it frontward 5 times, repeat the same backwards. Do the same motion with your right hand.

(Disclaimer: Dr. Raghavendra KS, Consultant, Joint Replacement & Spine Surgeon, Fortis Hospital, Kalyan. Views expressed are a personal opinion.)

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