Quick tips for smart phone users

As smart phones become more and more essential in our day to day lives, it is important to ensure your health doesn’t suffer as a result. We all know how convenient it is to start your day on the train, clearing out your inbox, sending off a few emails and passing the time with a quick game of Solitaire, Angry Birds or Backgammon. You may think: “I mostly just use my thumb and index finger, how can that possibly affect my health?”

If I told you that using your smart phone actually engages most of your arm, parts of your shoulderblade, and puts strain on your neck, would you believe me? It’s true! Prolonged use without regular breaks can lead to neck strain and stiffness, headaches, pain between the shoulder blades (see this a lot in the last couple of years), strain symptoms in the forearm, aching and general discomfort. The list goes on.  The key thing to consider here are repetitive movements, engaging muscles on a micro-level that when movement is sustained causes them to get tired, spasm up or get inflamed.

Of course I’m not suggesting you swap your iPhone for a basic call and text phone, that simply wouldn’t work anymore. Smartphones will only become more indispensable going forward for communication, payments, shopping and recreation. In fact they already are!

So a few quick tips to minimise the repetitive strain are:

  • Ask yourself the question: “Do I really need to send that email right now, or can it wait until I’m in the office?”
  • Call instead of texting when you anticipate more than a one liner
  • Take regular breaks – the same rules apply to your desktop computer. It’s called 20/20/20 – Every 20mins look 20m away for 20secs
  • Stretch on a regular basis. Stretching is an important part of keeping your body in check. If you have any pre-existing medical conditions please do consult with a medical professional. Generally it is always advised to get advice from a trained professional when starting a regime for the first time
  • Listen to audio books/music/podcasts on the way to work instead of playing games
  • If possible, take a day off every week – eek!

And if you’re already feeling one or more of the symptoms, niggling pain in your neck, forearm or shoulder, come and see me for some acupuncture and cupping therapy.