Articles, Ergonomics

PDA’s and the Price of Convenience

Is convenience on–the–road making your thumbs hurt?

Have you seen the comic strip about a teenager who sends hundreds of text messages? By the last panel, she holds aloft a throbbing, bandaged thumb, six times normal size. The joke: She has “carpal thumb–el” syndrome. While people smile at the idea of what is often called “Blackberry thumb”, sore thumbs are not a laughing matter. For sufferers, thumb tendonitis can be total agony. This is a repetitive motion injury associated with portable devices like PDAs and phones.

You probably associate repetitive motion injuries, like carpal tunnel syndrome, with desktops and laptops, but they are invading the handheld world. As the number of mobile devices increases, more people have sore thumbs. Fortunately, these devices–like any tool–can be used safely and ergonomically. Take a little care, and you can enjoy their convenience in comfort:

Send strong messages. Use your device as it is intended, to send and receive short messages. Type documents at your computer workstation.

Hold steady. When the device bobbles, you move your thumbs more — and more rapidly. Avoid extra movement by holding steady. Use all eight fingers to support your PDA while you type. Hold on with two hands.

Remember. These are accessories, not your primary computer or your primary means of communication.

Take breaks and stretch to prevent injury.

In addition, the principles that prevent injury when working at computers or gardening also apply to using your mobile device:

Stretch. This easy forearm stretch is good for your hands, too.

Correct your posture. Are you curled into a “C” to use your phone? Keep your arms at your side and your head up. Don’t hang your head.

Put it down. Look out the window. Chat with a colleague. Think about the big picture. It’s good for you.

Check out Kathi’s DVD “Stretch Away Neck, Shoulder, and Arm Pain”
to help establish an effective routine!

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