CINCINNATI -- We live in the age of the smartphone -- an era when we rely on pocket-sized helpers to do everything from auto-paying our bills to providing a map for us to get where we need to be. The power of technology to improve our lives is immense, said hand therapist Meg Robinson.
Unfortunately, so is its power to take a physical toll on the things we use to interact with it: Our hands.
Robinson, one of 6,000 certified hand therapists in the world, said using electronics can cause the same sort of repetitive motion injuries one might experience by typing on a keyboard for long periods of time.
Pressing down hard on a screen, too, can be more impactful than we realize.
"Even a pressure of five points could put up to 90 pounds of pressure at the carpal-metacarpal joint," she said. "We treat a lot of thumb arthritis now just from the things that people do with their hands … my guess is it will be even more prevalent."
Robinson gave us some tips to continue enjoying your phone while minimizing the damage it could do to your body.
- Use Siri, Cortana and other voice-activated assistants more often. A hands-free phone experience is a hand-safe one.
- Change your position. Listen: Lying awake at night, phone-hand curled into a claw as you scroll through your ex's Instagram isn’t emotionally or physically healthy. Hold your phone so you’re comfortable.
- Be sure to do other things with your hands. The key word in repetitive motion injury is ‘repetitive.’ Doing other activities with your hands will lessen the strain on frequently-used muscles and tendons.