What you need to be aware of when it comes to ergonomics and your smartphone
There’s no way around it. Smartphones have become an integral part of everyday life. From binge watching OTT content to texting for work to actually making phone calls (gasp!), almost everyone finds a way to use their favorite little device multiple times throughout the day.
This is all great. They make it easy to communicate for work and with friends and family. Offer countless ways to be entertained, or to offer a way to keep a child occupied for a few minutes. And they are as portable as almost any product around.
But just because they are small and lightweight (even the largest smartphones are not much larger than 7 inches) does not mean that they should be used without regard for one’s physical well-being. Keeping ergonomics and health in mind when spending 2 minutes or 5 hours on a smartphone can mean the difference between a relatively pain-free lifestyle to one where repetitive stress injuries sneak in.
The good news – there are some simple ergonomic tips you can keep in mind when using your smartphone to minimize the possibility of a future repetitive stress injury from it. And these tips are ones you can easily share.
The bad news – it may take a while to get comfortable with the changes, but trust us, it will be worth it.
Tips For Using Your Smartphone Ergonomically
- Keep a reasonable distance between the screen and your eyes at all times. You want to keep the level of strain on your eyes to a minimum. There should be no need to bring the device up close to your face. And most times when it is more than an arm’s length away you have to squint. Look to keep the phone about one to two feet from your eyes.
- Don’t hunch your neck when using your smartphone. Just because you’re not at the dinner table doesn’t mean that you should forget about the proper way to sit. When we’re watching our favorite show on our device or in the middle of a tweet storm, we tend to relax and fall into a comfortable default position. This leads to some people looking straight down at their smartphone, while others will end up leaning to one side or another. Always keep good posture in mind, including while standing. Try and keep your neck and spine aligned as often as possible.
- Make sure lighting in the room (or outside area) allows you to easily see what is on the screen. If you need to adjust settings on your device to see the screen better, feel free. Make sure that your environment isn’t one where you will find yourself squinting, or where a sudden glare might blind you for a few seconds.
- Don’t type with your fingers on a smartphone for too long a period of time. Texting is quick, easy and somewhat addictive. But going on long text or typing sprees with your smartphone can have similar effects to typing on a keyboard. Not only can you get temporary cramps in your fingers and hands, but Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a possibility for those who type with their fingers for long (and even not so long) periods of time.
- When having a phone call try and use the speaker phone function (or utilize ear buds). We’re not encouraging you to have a speaker phone conversation on a crowded train, but when the circumstances allow, we recommend it. Holding a phone to your ear is not a natural position for people. Over periods of time it can lead to aches, pains and sometimes works. If you do need to hold the phone to your ear for a call, switch hands often, use a loose grip and have your arm at a relaxed angle.
- Keep volume of any noise coming from the smartphone at a reasonable level. Whether it’s up to your ear, on the desk in front of you ,or you are listening to the sound through ear buds, you should never have the volume up too loud. Continued exposure to high levels of sound can cause permanent hearing damage, like tinnitus.
- Take breaks. We all have instances where we become consumed by what we are doing. But taking a timeout from your smartphone is a must. Set it down. Go for a walk. Get a healthy snack. If you need to, try an app that will help block your smartphone access or keep track of your usage.
Now these tips don’t seem too bad, do they? If you’re not ready to incorporate them all right away, we suggest focusing on one change each week until it becomes natural for you. If you take this path, pretty soon you’ll be on your way to using your smartphone more ergonomically and reaping the benefits.