When you work from a computer you typically type using the ten-finger method, the hunt-and-peck method, or some variation of either or both. With smartphones and tablets, it’s much different. For the most part, you use your thumbs. However, the thumb wasn’t designed for the number of repetitive movements involved in smart phone or tablet typing. Injuries related to overuse of the thumbs include aggravation of arthritis and/or thumb extensor tendonitis called DeQuervain’s Disease (also known as Tenosynovitis).

The following are a few steps you can take to prevent these injuries when using your smart phone.

Take a break and stretch

Pay attention to your body. It can take only a few minutes of heavy thumb typing to cause damage. Before you begin to feel discomfort or fatigue, take a break, stretch, and work on something else for a few minutes.

The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) recommends the following simple stretches:

  • Tap each finger with the thumb of the same hand. Repeat 5 times.
  • Alternate tapping of the palm of your hand and the back of your hand against your thigh as quickly as you can. Repeat 20 times.
  • Open up your hands and spread fingers as far apart as possible. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat 8 times.
  • Fold your hands together; turn your palms away from your body as you extend your arms forward. You should only feel a gentle stretch. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat 8 times.
  • Fold your hands together; turn your palms away from your body and extend your arms overhead. You should feel the stretch in your upper torso and shoulders, to the hands. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat 8 times.

Additional Ways to Reduce Tenosynovitis

  • Support your forearms while texting – studies have indicated a greater impact on muscles of the upper limbs when texting while standing.
  • Text with both hands or alternate your hands.
  • Reduce texting speed. The pace in which one performs a task plays a key role in the potential development of upper extremity soft-tissue damage. Slowing down reduces this factor.
  • Try reducing the number of text messages you send. This may help reduce the injury risk, as Tenosynovitis develops from overuse.
  • Consider using the voice messaging feature on your specific smart phone to cut down on the amount of typing you do. This can be an efficient, quick and hands-free method to send text messages.