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Smartphone Ergonomics

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By: Liya Moges

Liya Moges is a passionate and dedicated junior studying Biomedical Science, Business, and Law at Georgia State University. She works at Emory University Hospital supporting nurses and physicians on a Complex Medicine floor and uses thisopportunity to shadow different physicians in different specialties. While working alongside healthcare

professionals, Liya gained an interest in health equity and how it plays a role in the daily physician-patient interactions in a hospital setting. This interest plays a role in Liya’s desire to spread awareness on diversity/inclusion and health equity within healthcare. In an effort to combine her desire to educate the public, Liya joined Today’s Patient to address topics such as health and wellness, public health, and diversity inclusion in medicine.

Smartphone Ergonomics: Avoiding Injury 

 

In today's digital age, smartphones have become an integral part of our lives, providing us with a multitude of conveniences and opportunities for connectivity. However, with the increasing use of these devices, we often find ourselves facing a new set of health challenges. From text neck to smartphone thumb, tech-related strain and discomfort are real issues that can impact our overall well-being. In this blog, we will delve into the world of smartphone ergonomics and discuss strategies to prevent and alleviate these modern-day maladies.

What kind of Strain is caused by smartphone/technological use?

Prolonged smartphone use can lead to various discomforts, collectively known as "tech-related strain"

 

Some common issues include:

Text Neck: Spending hours hunched over your smartphone can strain your neck muscles and

lead to poor posture. This condition, often referred to as "text neck," can cause neck pain,

headaches, and even shoulder tension.

Smartphone Thumb: Excessive typing and scrolling on small screens can lead to discomfort in the thumb and wrist. Tenderness, pain, and inflammation can result from overuse.

Digital Eye Strain: Staring at screens for prolonged periods can cause digital eye strain, characterized by symptoms like dry eyes, eye fatigue, and blurred vision.

 

What can I do to prevent these strains?

Practicing good posture is a key method to ensure that you are preventing any neck, back, or hand related strain due to extensive uses of smartphones or other technology like tablets that often used on the go!

Here are some preventative measures you can actively take:

1. Hold your smartphone at eye level to reduce strain on your neck and shoulders.

2. Sit in a supportive chair and use cushions to maintain a neutral spine position.

3. Ergonomic Accessories: Invest in a phone stand or holder to keep your device at a comfortable

viewing angle.

4. Consider using ergonomic phone cases that provide better grip and support for your hands.

5. Take Frequent Breaks: Follow the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet

away for at least 20 seconds to reduce eye strain.

6. Use smartphone apps that remind you to take breaks and stretch.

7. Thumb-Friendly Typing: Use voice-to-text features whenever possible to give your thumbs a

break.

8. Hold your smartphone with both hands to distribute the strain evenly.

9. Stretching and Exercises: Perform neck stretches, shoulder rolls, and wrist exercises to alleviate

tension and maintain flexibility. Gentle hand and finger stretches can help prevent smartphone

thumb discomfort.

10. Blue Light Filters: Use built-in blue light filters or third-party apps to reduce the amount of blue

light emitted by your screen, which can contribute to digital eye strain.

11. Adjust Display Settings: Increase font size and adjust screen brightness to prevent squinting and

reduce eye strain.

 

12. Proper Lighting: Ensure your surroundings are well-lit to reduce glare on your smartphone

screen.

What can I do if I already have strains from using smartphones/other technology?

While smartphones undoubtedly play a significant role in our lives, it's essential to find a balance between staying connected and prioritizing our physical and mental well-being. If you find that you may already have back pain, neck, pain, or any related pain in your hands or fingers due to excessive use, then it’s important that you begin implementing the advice from above to prevent any further harm.

 

Most of these strains are viewed as minimal strains and can be improved with things like:

1. Stretching and strengthening workouts: There are small workouts you can do for your neck and back that can be easily implemented into your daily routine.

a. One thing you can do is implement some neck stretches to relieve your tension and pain! Gently tilt your head from side to side, forward and backward, and perform gentle neck rotations to relieve tension.

b. Another thing you can do is try out some thumb Exercises! Gradually introduce gentle thumb stretches and mobility exercises to maintain flexibility. Consult a physical therapist for guidance on appropriate exercises.

 

2. Massage and Heat Therapy: Apply a warm compress or take a warm shower to relax tight neck muscles. Consider getting a professional massage or using a handheld massager to target specific areas of discomfort.

3. Limiting usage of your devices and take regular breaks, but if you find that your pain continues or worsens over time despite your efforts to change your habits, please seek out your primary physician in order to discuss your problems further!

4. For strains that involve your eyes, try using artificial tears such as eye drops in order to alleviate dryness and discomfort in your eyes

a. Other things you can try out for digital eye strain relief is:

b. Blink Regularly by reminding yourself to blink more often while using your smartphone to keep your eyes moist and reduce dryness

c. Use Dark Mode and Filters: Activate dark mode on your smartphone and use blue light

filters to reduce the intensity of blue light exposure, which can help mitigate digital eye

strain.

 

By implementing these ergonomic practices and maintaining awareness of our device usage, we can prevent and alleviate tech-related strain, allowing us to fully enjoy the benefits of the digital world without compromising our health. Remember, a few simple adjustments can make a world of difference in your smartphone experience and overall quality of life.

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