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How you should be holding your smartphone, according to an orthopedic surgeon

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How you should be holding your smartphone, according to an orthopedic surgeon

WATCH | A wrist and hand doctor explains the health risks that come with holding a smartphone the wrong way

Here's a wakeup call for those of you poking your thumbs into your smartphones some thousands of times a day: You could be doing serious damage to your hands and wrists!

That's because, according to specialists we asked, there are right and wrong ways to hold a cell phone. And if you're clawing your iPhone the incorrect way day in and day out, it's possible you'll soon be calling up one of these wrist and hand specialists yourself to make an appointment for surgery.

People want a very thin, small device ... The problem with that is our hand wasn't designed to handle small objects.
Dr. Steven Beldner, M.D., Northwell Health

A picture of the carpal tunnel. You don't want to damage this.

Carpal Tunnel isn't just for typists, and thumb tendonitis is a thing

Dr.  Steven Beldner, co-director of Northwell Health's New York Hand and Wrist Center of Lenox Hill in Manhattan, told Circa there are a couple areas of concern that a frequent cell phone user should pay attention to: wrist and elbow posture, and thumb-to-palm movement.

Kinking your wrist when using your cell phone can cause problems with your hand's carpal tunnel. And though we all like sleek phones, very thin handsets cause us to stretch our thumbs to reach the screens, which stresses tendons in the hand.

To allow your thumb to operate within its natural range of motion, add bulk to your phone's body.

The right way to hold a smartphone

To ensure good blood flow to your smartphone-tapping fingers, keep your wrist and elbow as straight as possible while smartphoning. In other words, get your eyeglass RX updated so you're not cocking the phone inches from your face.

And to best avoid "smartphone thumb " (which is a thing), you should try putting your phone in a bulky case. Dr. Beldner recommends trying a flip cover -- when it's open, it makes the device much thicker and "allows your thumb to be in a more natural position," he said.

I had a patient who was immobilized in a cast for four weeks. He had severe tendonitis in his thumb from the phone.
Dina Delopoulos, OTR/L, Northwell Health
Wear support

Don't be too embarrassed to wear support.

Take rests and do smartphone stretches

Another fairly obvious tip: take breaks in the middle of heavy smartphone use (between Candy Crush levels).  And every now and again, try stretching out your hand and wrist muscles and tendons (check out our video above to see some examples of good stretches).

And if you are really serious about your hand and wrist health, you can velcro on a a little wearable support ahead of heavy smartphone use.

So, what do you think of super thin phones now?

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