Tips to Prevent Musculoskeletal Conditions While Using your Smartphone

It's not uncommon these days, to see people moving around with their faces buried in their mobile phones or tablets. Even having a decent conversation with a friend can prove abortive if the notorious "third party" refuses to leave the eyes of him/her.

A 2014 study in the Journal of Surgical Study revealed that bending your head while looking at your mobile device can add between 12kg to 27kg of pressure on your spine.

"New" musculoskeletal conditions like "Text Neck" and "Texting Thumb" are becoming a common presentations in physiotherapy clinics, and therefore it has become a major responsibility for us as health practitioners to put out safety tips on how to use mobile or handheld devices.

So here are some tips on how to use your smartphone and other handheld devices safely:

When holding your phone, especially, for long periods, adopt postures that help keep your wrists and fingers in as relaxed a position as possible. Deliberately and gently stretch your wrists and fingers in the opposite direction you had been holding your phone as a relaxation move.

Keep your device at eye or chin level to minimize bending your neck and upper back. Take time out to move your neck, stretching it in the opposite direction that that it has been.

Just like when using your monitor or laptop in the office, imbibe the 20-20-20 rule - for every 20 minutes you spend looking at your device, take 20seconds off to stare at an object about 20 feet away.

Use your other fingers instead of thumbs to type.

Avoid wedging your phone between your ear and shoulder when talking on the phone.

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