Date Published: 3 September 2005

Text Messaging Advice from Physiotherapists - Avoid RSI

Physios urge students to improve their text life

As the popularity of text messaging continues to soar, chartered physiotherapists are urging teenagers to text safely in order to reduce the risk of developing painful repetitive strain injury (RSI). In 2004, 79 million text messages were sent in the UK on the day GCSE results were announced. As more and more youngsters take up this form of communication, the use of text messaging is likely to continue to increase.

With UK mobile phone users sending 72 million text messages on a typical day and a forecast of 30 billion texts being sent during 2005, the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) has produced a 5-step programme text addicts can follow to prevent the onset of text message injury (TMI).

Bronwyn Clifford, of the Association of Chartered Physiotherapists in Occupational Health and Ergonomics (ACPOHE), specialises in treating RSI and stated that there are three components to overuse:

  • Frequency,
  • Duration and
  • Intensity.

In the case of text messaging it is worth considering how often you repeat the same motion and over what period of time. If you are doing it for more than 10-15 minutes at a time, it can lead to problems. In order to avoid pain, Clifford advises:

" Don't spend more than 5-10 minutes at a time text messaging and, if you must stay constantly in touch, try to spread the load and use both your fingers and thumbs to text."

The Chartered Society of Physiotherapists
5-Step Programme to Safe Texting:

Step One:

Try to support your arms on a chair or table to take the "load" off the neck and shoulder muscles when texting. Hold the phone up with the screen facing towards you so you are not having to flex your neck too much as you look down to view the screen.

Step Two:

Keep your hands close to your body. The weight of a phone may not feel much, but the load on your arm is significantly increased if the arm is held out stretched and this action will put strain on your neck and shoulder muscles.

Step Three:

Break or swap hands regularly, before the onset of any discomfort. Try to use both hands together when texting to "spread the load". Also learn to use the predictive text messaging feature on your phone. This will help reduce the repetitive motion of pressing various keys.

Step Four:

If your hand or forearm feels tense or sore, massage your arm from the wrist to the elbow.

Step Five:

Carrying out these three exercises:

  1. Regularly open your fingers and stretch them out.
  2. Stretch your arm out, rotate your wrist so it is facing upwards and with your other hand pull your palm down towards the floor to feel a stretch over the front of your forearm muscles. Hold for 15 seconds and repeat 2-3 times.
  3. Stretch your arm out, rotate your wrist so it is facing downwards and with your other hand pull your hand back towards your wrist to feel a stretch over the back of your forearm muscles. Hold for 15 seconds and repeat 2-3 times.

Information from the Chartered Society of Physiotherapists.

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