Office workers have ergonomic keyboards, chairs, monitors, and desk setups to help them use those devices with less strain on their bodies.
Shoe-wearers have wider toe boxes, zero-drop heels, and more pliable material.
What does the person who regularly uses a smartphone or e-reader have to make those devices work better and cause less strain?
I’ve written before about the physical issues that arise from the use of mobile devices (and computers) at the volume that most people use them today.
I chose the phrase “tech hand” to discuss the impact that modern devices are having on us.
Achy hands, wrist pain and weakness, elbow inflammation, shoulder and neck pain…
The volume of time you’re on your mobile device, e-reader, tablet, and even your gaming console, is affecting you.
How Is Texting Hurting My Hands?
If you sit in the car driving for twelve hours straight, when you get out of the car, you feel the effects of the time spent sitting.
Using tech devices at the volume folks use them today, is not much different from sitting in the car all day.
There is a repeated pattern (in the car, it’s ‘sitting’; here, it’s ‘wrapping your fingers around a device and using your thumb profusely to push and tap the device’), that requires you to use your body a lot in one way, and not much in any other way.
When you position yourself, or move yourself, a lot in one way and not much in the other ways – you run into problems.
Even if those signals cause your soft or hard tissue to respond in a way that impacts you negatively.
How Do I Make Texting
Better For Me?
The device isn’t the sole problem here. As I mentioned in the original articles on ‘tech hand’, there are three important factors for handling the chronic position your hands and arms are in when you’re using a mobile device.
1. Be more aware of your usage.
Spend a week noticing how much you use your device. Then ask yourself questions like, “do I do things on my phone which I could do on a desktop computer or with pen and paper?” and “do I really need to check my social media that many times per day?”. It’s not a matter of removing tech (though you could if you want to) but finding ways to make tech a minimally invasive part of your life
2. Do things that counteract the nearly perpetual usage.
Are you moving and training the muscles and joints that you use when interacting with your phone or tablet? Your hands, wrists, arms, shoulders, neck, spine, they’re all responding to you holding your phone in your hand. Train those areas to move in other ways so that you can maintain – or regain it if you’ve lost it – their function, mobility, and strength.
3. Get a tool to help make the time that you are using your phone better.
You’re not going to get rid your mobile device, e-reader, or computer. (Even if you head off on a bicycle trip from Alaska to Patagonia, you’ll likely still bring your phone.) So the goal is not to get you to stop using your devices.
But if you can make the time you spend using your mobile devices better, that is something worth exploring.
This isn’t an advert for this product, I’m just sharing something I found and have fallen in love with.
I had been at the store getting a new phone for my defective one. While waiting, I saw PopSockets sitting next to the register.
A PopSocket is a small button-like device that sticks to the back of your phone that ‘pops’ up via an accordion-like device in the middle of the button. And, according to the company’s “About Us” page, it was originally meant to be an easy way to wrap up earbud cords around the phone.
Think of it like a spool for thread. Same concept.
Except the most valuable thing about the PopSocket isn’t that you can wrap your earbud cords up.
The most valuable thing about the PopSocket is this:
When you put the PopSocket on your phone in just the right position, it makes it effortless to hold your phone in your hand.
If you’ve ever been in a marathon texting session, have to use your phone extensively for business, or have already developed arthritis and find the holding and thumb-pressing to be tiresome on your hands – you know that holding and using a mobile device wears your hands and wrists out after awhile.
I dislike the hand position holding a phone to type on the screen requires. I dislike the low-level constant tension you must hold in your hand as you maintain that position.
When I hold my phone using the PopSocket, my hand is more relaxed as I hold the phone. The phone feels more secure in my hand. And, if you’re taking a selfie – group or solo – the phone is so much easier to hold in your hand with your arm extended out, angling to get that perfect snap.
And, if you don’t want to use the PopSocket, you can simply squish the accordion down so it’s compressed against the back of your phone and use your phone as you have traditionally done.
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What makes it even better is that if you don’t like the position of your PopSocket, or want to take it off so that your phone fits into the pocket of your ultra-skinny style jeans, you can do that. You just unstick it from your phone, and when ready to re-apply, wet the phone attachment end of it, and stick it back on your phone.
This praise for an inexpensive item that you stick on your phone sounds ridiculous, I know. It’s just a tiny little button that accordions open from the back of your phone.
But I kid you not – using my mobile device is infinitely easier on my hand when using it with a PopSocket.
Stamp of approval
I’m not paid by the PopSocket folks, nor was I approached about endorsing their product.
But I feel very strongly that they’ve put together a fantastic little item that makes doing modern life stuff like Instagramming, texting, reading, and watching on the tiny little screen in your hands, much easier.
I liked this product so much that I am making them my first recipient of the Fit For Real Life Seal Of Approval.
They don’t get any prizes, nor do they get a trophy for this honor (sorry gang).
But the PopSocket does get my stamp of approval, and it deserves attention as an ergonomically beneficial tool for mobile devices.
It would also be great to have a PopSocket on your e-reader. The e-readers are all very light, just like a phone, but require you to position your hands with some tension around the device to hold it.
Some may think, ‘what’s the big deal about a little tension in your hands as you read or text?’
If this is a question you have, I’d ask you to try the following activity – raise your shoulders towards your ears just a bit, leave them there as you do all of your computer work, then take note of how ‘just a little tension’ feels at the end of the day.
The PopSocket device is the best thing I’ve used to make the time I have to spend on my phone better. So check them out, and see what it’s like to have a hand that doesn’t ache from holding your phone and typing all day. (I also love that you can design-your-own PopSocket so you can put a puppy, an astral vision, or anything else you want, on the device.)
It may take you a time or two to determine where the best place on your phone for your PopSocket is to make it work for your hand. And it will take you a moment to get used to typing without having your fingers clutched around the phone. After that, it’s smooth sailing.
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