Physical Effects of Technology Overuse
In the world of physical therapy, we often come across injuries on the body that occur as a result of strenuous and repetitive motions. Although this has been very common among laborers and those with other physically demanding jobs; these particular types of injuries are now becoming more common among individuals who spend large amounts of time on smartphones, tablets, or computers for both occupational and leisure use.
Below are a few examples of types of injuries that can occur from the use of our smart devices and strategies for relief and to decrease the risk of further injury.
With the use of smartphones, very seldom do we place the screen of our phones in an ergonomic position for viewing. We often will hold the phone in front of us at a comfortable angle for our arms and angle our necks for a good viewing angle. As we scroll through Facebook, watch videos, or….find an interesting blog to read; our necks stay in a flexed position often leading to neck stiffness, soreness, tension headaches, or even muscle spasms.
When spending a large portion of your day looking at your smartphone, it would be a good idea to try some of the following:
a.Take breaks and stretch your neck through all available motions.
b. Position your phone to be in front of you so that your neck is not forced to be in a down and flexed position to view the screen.
c. Use screen mirroring or airplay to display your phone screen to a larger device such as a smart TV for more comfortable viewing.
Along with viewing our phone, the next most common injury arises from using our thumbs for swiping. For the majority of functions on our smartphones, the use of our fingers in swiping fashion is necessary. In order for us to swipe, we are often relying on the muscles and tendons of the rear of the thump that allow us to swipe to the side or upwards on the screen. Repeatedly swiping can lead to what's known as De Quervain's tenosynovitis. This particular injury is a result of inflammation of these tendons on the thumb from overuse.
Strategies for prevention and relief:
a. Take breaks from activities or apps that require you to swipe solely in one direction.
b. Use your other hand to give your overused hand a break.
c. Stretch your hands and fingers throughout the day.
If you are experiencing pain or discomfort from the overuse of smart devices and you cannot find relief, consult our physical therapists and get relief.
Ryan Chakir, PT, DPT