NEW YORK (CIRCA) — Here's a wake-up 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 cellphone. 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."
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 cellphone users should pay attention to: wrist and elbow posture, and thumb-to-palm movement.
Kinking your wrist when using your cellphone 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. 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."
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 little wearable support ahead of heavy smartphone use.