Your digital communication devices aren’t just reliable for killing time on the bus—they’re also a great for sending prematurely aging you and breaking all kinds of things in your body. Or at least, that’s what some some experts are saying.
According to ergonomics professionals cited in this New York Times article, mobile phones, laptops and tablets are all much worse for the human body than their predecessors. They are built for convenience and usability—not for optimal join, hand, back and neck health.
Previously, they say, computer-using employees had only to worry about eye strain and a sedentary lifestyle, because desks, office chairs, and desktop computers were all designed to support the body and be adjusted for comfort. Other, smaller technologies, like the ones you hold in your hand with your shoulders hunched together, are not. And there’s really not any good way to position them when you’re using them anywhere other than a desk.
Possibly ailments caused by overuse and poor posture can range from the uncomfortable (like carpal tunnel syndrome, which can make triceps dips and other wrist-bending activities very unpleasant), to the more serious, like weakened vision, or something called De Quervain’s tenosynovitis, which is apparently when your thumb joints become so worn out, it becomes difficult to make a fist or hold things.
And aside from the physical strain of trying to email on a personal communication device the size of Twinkie, there’s also a significant amount of mental duress that comes from feeling chained to one’s machinery. Without the ability to turn off and get away, workers’ physical injuries are more likely to be made worse by the tension of being in constant contact.
So what’s the best option for optimal health and staying connected?
Unfortunately, until developers built a better device (iPhone 5, maybe?) there isn’t really one, say the experts, who list the copious cons of both keypads (which require your thumbs to move in unnatural and unhealthy ways) and touch pads (which are hard on your fingers). The only way escape the physical and mental stress that your gadgets put on you is the easiest/most difficult path: turn it off, stretch out and walk away for a while.