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Stress-Relief Exercises for Smartphone Users

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Health practitioners are noticing increased incidences of repetitive strain injuries (RSIs) due to smartphone or tablet use. Using a smartphone or tablet for extensive reading can force users to hold their arms and wrists in awkward positions for long periods of time. In addition, the small screen size often makes users slump over the screen to see it better, causing strain in the muscles of the head, neck and shoulders. And finally, relying on thumbs to type for extended periods can cause "BlackBerry thumb." In this repetitive strain injury, overuse and awkward positioning cause the tendons at the base of the thumb to become inflamed. The following exercises can help energize the body and relieve muscle tension, which may reduce the risk of RSIs. You can train employees to do these simple exercises and encourage them to do them periodically throughout the day. 

Hand Stretches: Separate and straighten your fingers until you feel the tension of a stretch. Hold 10 seconds. Relax, then bend fingers at the knuckles and hold 10 seconds. Repeat the first stretch once more.

Wrist Stretches: Place your hands palm-to-palm in front of you. Move hands downward, keeping your palms together, until you feel a mild stretch. Keep elbows up and even. Hold 5-8 seconds.

Eye Stretches

Palming: Cover your closed eyes with your hands so that the palms are over (but not touching) your eyelids. Your fingers should overlap above your nose on your forehead. Take several deep breaths and take in the complete darkness (or visualize a relaxing setting). After 20 seconds or so, uncover your eyes and allow them to refocus.

Refocus Routine: Identify two objects that are roughly 20 feet away and relax. Comfortably focus on one object for approximately 10-15 seconds, then focus on the other object for 10-15 seconds. Return your focus to your monitor and continue working. Repeat routine regularly throughout the day.
Source: USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service

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