Is your phone killing you?

Beware! Your gadgets may be your lifeline, but they could be harming your health without you realising it. Aretha Loh investigates.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

Beware! Your gadgets may be your lifeline, but they could be harming your health without you realising it. Aretha loh investigates.


Ouch! Text neck

What it is: You’re straining to see your inbox… and bam! That continual aching pain could be the result of “forward head posture” (FHP), where the alignment of your head and neck shifts in front of your torso, thanks to overstretching. Dr Kenneth Hansraj, a leading spinal surgeon in New York, measured the weight of the average human head in a neutral position – it weighs 4.5-5.5kg. However, as it moves forward and downward, its weight increases drastically (12.3kg at a 15-degree angle; 22.3kg at a 45-degree angle).

Fix it: Don’t hunch over to read your phone. Instead, raise the screen to your eye level. Your ears should be aligned with your shoulders, and remember that your shoulder blades should also be pulled back.

Ouch! Keyboard claw

What it is: Soreness and cramping in your wrists, forearms and fingers due to your iron-like grip on your phone when you type.

Fix it: Chill! Type in a relaxed manner, holding your phone in one hand, and hitting the keys with the other. After texting, stretch your arm in the air with your elbow straight and palm facing up. Then, gently stretch your fingertips towards the floor with the other hand pushing down, and hold for 20 seconds.

Ouch! Cellphone elbow

What it is: When you hold your phone to your ears, you stretch a nerve that extends underneath the funny bone and controls the smallest fingers. If you hold this position for a long time, it chokes the blood supply to the nerves (yes, awful), causing a tingling sensation in your ring and little fingers.

Fix it: Do the same stretches as described in Keyboard Claw. Alternatively, extend your arm, straighten your fingers and cock your wrist back. Keeping your elbow straight, pull your arm back behind your body for a good loosen-up.

Ouch! Smartphone pinkie

What it is: Pain on the inside of your little finger. This happens when you repeatedly use it to support the weight of your phone.

Fix it: We’re not built to hold a heavy or cumbersome object for hours, with the weight resting on the pinkie, and the thumb flicking around in all directions. The most damage-proof method is to cradle your phone in the palm of one hand and type with the other.

Smart moves

• Avoid being on your phone for more than 15-20min continuously.

• Take regular breaks. Look into the distance to readjust your vision, and move your body.

• Don’t use your tablet for more than 30-40min at a time.

• Listen to your body. Often, pain means no gain!

Expert source: Gary Tho, chiropractor at and owner of pain-relief clinic, Chiro Works Family & Sports Clinic    

More: phone