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Life in Motion

Two Reasons to Take a Break From Technology

Health & Prevention

Americans are spending hours each day looking down scrolling and typing on their devices. Have you ever thought about how the time spent on your smart phone, tablet or computer each day can affect your body? This has become such an issue that there are now two conditions that can result from technology use called “tech neck” and “texting thumb.”

Tech Neck

Tech neck is caused by looking down at your devices for an extended period of time. Symptoms include neck and shoulder pain or stiffness, headaches, and pain radiating down the arms. Luckily, tech neck can be managed by taking the following steps.

Limit Your Device Use
Limiting the amount of time you are using your devices can help avoid tech neck. Try to set time limits for yourself, and if you are using your devices for an extended period of time, be sure to take breaks. When you take a break, try doing some simple stretches like squeezing your shoulder blades together and turning your head from side to side.

Practice Proper Posture
Paying attention to how you are positioned can also help alleviate some of these symptoms. Keep your screen out in front of you and in your line of sight to avoid straining your neck downwards.

Texting Thumb

Texting and typing on devices can cause your thumb to experience aching, throbbing or cramping.  It is similar to writer’s cramp, and other repetitive strain type injuries, where often rest alone is enough to relieve symptoms. In some cases, inflammation of thumb tendons can occur, or pain associated with pre-existing arthritis in the thumb can increase. To prevent these overuse injuries, there are a few precautions you can take.

Put down your phone
If you’re experiencing hand or thumb pain, stop doing the action that is causing pain. You will want to take frequent breaks before resuming the activity.

Give your fingers or hands a rest
To give your fingers a break from texting try using a stylus or the voice activated feature on your phone. If you are able, try switching to the opposite hand to do the activity. Additionally, consider sticking with a smaller phone instead of upgrading to the next bigger size; holding a larger phone while navigating with your thumb requires greater effort.

Change positions
The position that you hold your phone to text can also lead to injury. Holding the phone in the palm of your hand and using only one finger or thumb can keep your hand in an awkward position for long periods of time. This can be irritating and cause pain in your thumb or wrist. Try putting the phone on a table or flat surface and type from there.  If you have a longer message to send, consider waiting until you are able to use a laptop or tablet, which allow you to type with both hands.

If you are experiencing any type of persistent pain, tingling or numbness in your hands/fingers, see an orthopedic expert.

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