Smartphone injury?
November 26, 2011 9:03 AM   Subscribe

I use my smartphone a lot and my hands/thumbs are getting sore. I know how to stave off pain from typing and hunching over my computer, but those techniques don't work for this. Can you recommend stretches or massage techniques?

I have a Nexus One, so I do a lot of swiping and I use the little scrolly ball.

I try to switch hands fairly often, but this has just resulted in having two sore hands. The pain is mostly in the muscles at the base of my thumb. I'm starting to wonder if the way I hold my wrists when I'm using my phone is part of the problem, similar to the way slouching shoulders leads to forearm pain.

I know that I need to use my phone and computer less. My question is specifically about other techniques to prevent/heal whatever is happening to my hands: posture, stretches, massage, etc.
posted by heatherann to Health & Fitness (5 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I have the same problem, particularly on the right as I'm usually holding the phone in my right hand.

I've found holding the phone in my right hand in a normal grip and using the index finger of my left hand to use the phone works well and has relieved the joint pain. However, it's hard to remember not to use the thumbs when using the keyboard.

Have you tried ibuprofen, ice, and resting your hands? I don't know if there's anything else other than that and avoiding the thing which starts the pain in the first place.
posted by stenoboy at 9:11 AM on November 26, 2011

Use dictation software so you can type less?
posted by majortom1981 at 10:49 AM on November 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

Here are some finger exercises which might help (more links where this one came from, too).

This is part 3 of a series (part 1 and 2 are a lot of talking, if you are interested you can check them out). This focuses on neck, shoulders, elbows and wrists, but might be helpful anyway. Also - the series has several more parts which I have not watched, you might find something more directly relevant to your problem. Another video, same type of exercises here. All of these are couched in "holistic" language, but you can ignore that if it's not your cup of tea. I've actually discovered these a few days ago (I think via AskMe, if I'm not mistaken) but just got round to start doing them today, and do feel better for them.

Other exercises I've done:

1. sit cross-legged on the floor. Stretch one arm out in front of you, palm facing away from you, fingers spread. With the other hand pick each finger up one by one, pull them towards you (slightly - you don't want to hurt yourself), let them flop back. Do this to your thumb, too, extra gently. Reverse hands. Shake your wrists out, not too forcefully, just flip-flop your hands about, both from side to side and forwards and backwards (basically, exploiting every direction your wrists can move).

2. Bend each finger one by one towards your palm, and then gently press them in using your other hand.

3. Just rotate the painful finger clockwise, then anti-clockwise. Alternate this with other movements at the joint (sideways and forward-backward).

4. Stand facing a wall with palms stretched out flat against the wall, fingers pointing upwards, thumb pointing away from the palm. Press lightly. Now turn the palm of one hand the other way round, fingers pointing down (the inside of your elbow should be pointing up now). Grip around and use the thumb of your other hand to pull the thumb of the wall-pressing hand upwards and futher away from your palm ( I hope this makes sense). You should feel a pulling sensation extending through your thumb and your forearm. Hold a bit. Change hands. Very important - do this really gently and stop when you feel pain.

I'd also try to see a professional about this - who knows what the situation is and you don't want to do any damage. They will also be able to give you a more targeted routine.
posted by miorita at 11:52 AM on November 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

If you're on an android platform, start using Google's speech recognition. It's pretty darn good, and even if a few errors slip in, it's usually quicker to correct them than it would be to type out the whole thing.

Assuming you already have it installed, just hit the little microphone key on your keyboard and talk away.
posted by chrisamiller at 12:41 PM on November 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

Seconding investigating other input methods. Swype is a very popular keyboard replacement that uses an entirely different motion. I personally am hooked on Nuance FlexT9 - it has a Swype-like feature that I prefer to Swype, and I think the dictation/voice recognition is much better than Google's (which is still very good). Totally worth $5.
posted by Tehhund at 5:05 PM on November 26, 2011

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