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

By: Lifestyle Desk | New Delhi |

October 12, 2020 8:50:00 pm

smartphone injuries, what causes smartphone injuries, how to treat smartphone injuries, texting, neck pain, wrist pain, indian express newsKeeping your arm in the same position for the picture-perfect shot is not appropriate; using a selfie stick or placing your elbow on something that offers support, can help. (Source: Pixabay)

In today’s age, it is almost impossible to imagine life without smartphones. Be it work or leisure, these phones operate as tools with which we complete our chores and keep ourselves entertained. While some people hail smartphones for their features which make their life easy, others think of them as distraction. Doctors, however, fear that smartphone addiction could lead to many health problems, including injuries.

Dr Raghavendra KS, consultant, Joint Replacement & Spine Surgeon, Fortis Hospital, Kalyan, says too many people complain of finger, hand and elbow pain as a result of frequent use of devices — referring to it as ‘selfie elbow’ or ‘texting thumb’.

He suggests you do the following things to reduce the risk of smartphone injuries:

* Keeping your arm in the same position for the picture-perfect shot is not appropriate; using a selfie stick or placing your elbow on something that offers support, can help.
* Alternate between using your thumbs and other fingers whenever possible. Use your fingers to type and scroll as a substitute for your thumbs.
* Place your phone on a surface if you’re texting; 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, as this may create a bend which can lead to potential injury.
* Keep your wrists as straight as possible. Reduce the strain on your wrists, fingers and thumbs by using a neutral grip when holding your device.
* Try to keep the phone at the level of your chest, chin or eye to lessen the strain on the neck and to maintain optimal spinal posture. If your phone is below the eye level, look down with your eyes rather than your neck.
* Avoid placing the phone on one side of the body, with the neck cradling it between your ear and shoulder – a common posture to answer calls when you are multi-tasking.
* Limit your device usage to 20 minutes and take a short ‘device-free break’ in between.

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The doctor also recommends some exercises for relief:

For your hands, fingers and thumbs

– Twist your fingers and thumb into a firm fist then straighten and stretch them.
– Begin with your fingers completely extended; then spread them apart.

For your wrist

– Hold your arm in front 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 towards your wrist, gently rotate each wrist clockwise for 15 seconds. Then move the wrists anticlockwise for another 15 seconds.

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For your neck

– Use your hand to gently pull your head to one side and rotate your nose towards that shoulder. Hold for 20 seconds on each side.
– Lift your head towards the sky gently, breathing in, while releasing your breath to move your head and neck downward. Repeat this exercise 10 times.

For the shoulders

– Turn the shoulder blade 10 times inwards and 10 times outwards.
– Raise your left hand upward and rotate it frontward 5 times, repeat the same backwards. Do the same motion with your right hand.

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