People spend an average of two to four hours a day with their heads tilted down to read or text on their smartphones, according to a study by Kenneth Hansraj, the chief of spine surgery at New York Spine Surgery & Rehabilitation. This can cause premature wear and tear and degeneration and possibly lead to the need for surgery. The study doesn’t suggest you should give up your smartphone and other devices, though. Instead, the study stresses the importance of understanding the stress on your spine and neck and maintaining proper alignment instead of always looking down.
Fortunately, more manufacturers are paying attention to how devices add stress to the body. Smartphone ergonomics are becoming more of a concern for consumers and business professionals who need to use their devices to perform their jobs efficiently. Here’s a look at how you can find an ergonomic device:
Shop for the Best Hold
How well your smartphone fits in your hand can dramatically impact its ergonomic efficiency. Smartphone manufacturers are reducing the weight of their devices and designing a more comfortable grip to make it easy to hold and use. For example, the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge features a dual-edged screen. The phone is slim, lightweight and easy to hold for a comfortable fit with an eye-popping design. Whatever smartphone you choose for your business and pleaure, the easier it is to hold it, the less strain you put on your wrist and fingers throughout the day.
Choose the Right Screen Size
The combination of the screen size and how comfortably you can hold your smartphone makes or breaks your experience. In addition to potential stress to your spine, a screen that’s too small can overtax your thumbs and give you “Blackberry thumb.” A bigger screen makes it easier and faster to read, gives more real estate for looking over contracts and presentations, and forces your fingers to do the texting. However, a smaller smartphone, like Apple’s iPhone 5S, ensures your thumb can stretch across the device for quick and easy texting. There isn’t an exact science to choosing your next smartphone, so be sure to choose the best screen size for your day-to-day business needs and your comfort.
Use Voice Technology
The invisible features of your smartphone also help your ergonomic needs and how you run your business. Instead of strictly relying on your thumbs and looking down to respond to texts, pick a smartphone with a voice-to-text feature. You also can ask your phone to look up information online or get directions instead of typing it out yourself. The less stress you put on your body, the better. So take advantage of what your smartphone offers beyond its design and grip.
Go Ergonomic at Work
The National Institute of Health stresses the importance of an ergonomic work station to ensure your business doesn’t compromise your physical health. Position your monitor directly in front of you so you don’t have to twist or crane your neck to use it. Sitting is hard on your back, so a standing work station or treadmill desk helps reduce the stress on your back muscles while improving your overall energy level. Adjust the lighting in your workspace, including the screens of your devices and computers, to cause the least strain on your eyes and need to hunch forward to see.
Create a Travel Workspace
Traveling on business trips isn’t an excuse to forget all about your ergonomic workspace. Create a station at your hotel room’s desk, and adjust your monitors and chairs to promote good posture. Attach an external keyboard to your smartphone or tablet for easy typing instead of straining your neck and thumbs to compose an email on your smartphone. Remember that constantly bending over and twisting to retrieve files and your smartphone plug can lead to back strain, so unpack your laptop bag on your dresser or luggage rack for easy access instead.