Smartphones allow us to connect, and connecting with friends, colleagues, and business can enhance our quality of life! Texting is a modern convenience that we all can appreciate, I know that I do. It allows us to connect easily and can add a little more productivity (or a lot for some professionals) to our day.
We use our Smartphone a lot. Research suggests that we use our phones for up to 20 hours per week. Additionally most of us who use our phones for this duration would admit that the best postures are not always used.
Question: have you ever felt any discomfort as a result of using your Smartphone?
Why is this important?
We all know that texting can introduce some ergonomic risk to us. Even before I had a Smartphone, I heard the phrase ‘Blackberry Prayer’, as a representation of all the awkwardness involved with using a very small device for extended periods of time. Although the type of Smartphone has changed over the years, the type of posture required to use it hasn’t.
Mobile device users tend to report pain symptoms on the neck, shoulder, and thumb and the severity of the symptoms increases with the total time spent using their mobile device. We all are familiar with this posture: downward gaze (head flexion) locked onto the screen either looking down for a prolonged period of time or frequently looking up and down so as to position themselves when walking places. And this is what has been suggested is the cause of such extreme pain in the neck region.
Symptoms of textneck (too much neck flexion, held for prolonged periods of time) can be neck pain and headaches. Textneck combined with other ergonomic risks that are in our daily work lives may actually exacerbate injury symptoms in other areas of a person’s life, such as while working in their office workstation.
What should you change in your daily activities?
Out of all the functionalities on the Smartphone, texting consistently yielded the most extreme neck positions. So, periodic rest breaks during texting is probably the most efficient and low-cost recommendation to lessing the cumulative stress from intensive text messaging.
There are some rest timers available on the itunes store. You can download these on your phone to remind you when to take breaks.
This wellness approach is so important because Smartphones can result in:
- Neck postures that are in an extremely flexed forward position (double what is considered to be in an acceptable range)
- There is even more extreme neck postures when sitting compared to when standing
- Repetitive and/or prolonged movements can further exacerbate ergonomic risk
Lee, S. , Kang, H. & Shin, G. (2015). Head flexion angle while using a smartphone.Ergonomics, 58(2): 220–226.