Bum Thumbs from Texting? (Quick Relief for All You Texters Out There!)

Is it just me, or is everyone glued to their devices these days?  And not just glued, but texting, texting and then texting some more.  Seriously, people text while they talk to you (and tell you that they are listening!), or interrupt their conversation with you (and actually stop listening!). They text while walking and even  while driving, both of which are dangerous (not to mention that texting while driving is illegal!). How many times has someone stepped off an elevator and right into you because they were texting?  Or banged into you on the street only to apologize?    In addition, for many of us, it seems to be the best and only way to communicate with our kids these days.   And I hate to say it, but lately I’ve been doing a whole lot of texting too.

Now I pride myself on texting with good form (gotta practice what I preach right?) – but lo and behold recently, my left thumb started to hurt!   The base of the thumb, my CMC joint to be exact.  I was absolutely convinced that it was arthritis.  And as the days went on, the pain worsened and started interfering with activities that I love, like writing, knitting and playing the piano.

I knew it couldn’t be from texting because I tend to text hold my phone in my left hand and text with my right index finger.   When I type, I don’t even use my left thumb, so I knew it couldn’t be that either.  My mother has arthritis in her thumb – so I figured it was my turn.  I even made an appointment with my doctor to check things out.

Now, I have to confess that in addition to texting and emailing,  I found myself playing a whole lot of Solitaire, Frenzic, Scramble with Friends and checking Facebook on my phone.  (Busted!) And my Ah-Ha moment came when I looked down at my hand and saw how I was HOLDING my phone!

And sure enough there it was, my thumb and wrist were bent back in a terribly awkward position which happened to coincide with where my pain points were.   So, naturally, I changed my hand position, played less games and over the course of the next few days, my thumb pain was gone!  And I’m happy to say, I’ve been pain free ever since.

So, for all of you texters and gamers out there who love your devices, here are a few tips to  help you text in comfort!

  • Alternate fingers.  Relying only on your thumbs will wear them out!
  • Be mindful of your wrist position. Keep them as neutral as possible!
  • It’s not just your thumbs and wrists that can take a beating.  Try to avoid bending your neck and head forward to see the screen.
  • Make your replies short and sweet.  Abbreviate whenever and wherever possible.
  • Use voice activation on your phone if you have it!
  • Call the person you are texting!
  • Next time you are with colleagues or friends, put your phone away and be present.  Trust me.  Whoever you are keeping company will appreciate it!
  • And NEVER EVER text (or e-mail) while driving.  Nothing is important enough to put yourself and others in harm’s way!

Do you have any tips and recommendations for texting?  Please leave us a comment below!   We’d love to hear from you!

Vivienne Fleischer – Co-Founder, Performance Based Ergonomics

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