According to The American Society of Hand Therapists (ASHT), heavy use of handheld electronic devices can lead to hand ailments. In a national consumer education alert, professional hand therapists offer tips for preventing injuries caused by the extreme use of small personal music devices, smart phones and PDAs. In addition to providing healthy usage guidelines, ASHT recommends the following hand and wrist exercises to reduce the risk of injuries when using handheld electronics.
Note: These exercises should never be painful when completing them. You should only feel a gentle stretch. You should stretch both sides. Should you experience pain, please consult a hand therapist or physician.
- Fold your hands together and turn your palms away from your body as you extend your arms forward. You should feel a stretch all the way from your shoulders to your fingers. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat eight times.
- Fold your hands together and turn your palms away from your body, but this time extend your arms overhead. You should feel the stretch in your upper torso and shoulders to hand. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat eight times.
- Place your hand just above the back of the elbow and gently push your elbow across your chest toward the opposite shoulder. This is a stretch for the upper back and shoulder. Stretch both the right and left arms. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat eight times.
- Raise one arm overhead. Bend the elbow. Place the opposite hand on the bent elbow and gently push the elbow back further. This is a stretch for the triceps (muscle on the back of the upper arm). Stretch both the right and left arms. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat eight times.
- Extend an arm in front of you, making sure the elbow is completely straight. With your palm down, take the opposite hand and bend the hand down toward the floor. Then turn the palm up, and stretch the hand up toward your body. This stretches the forearm and wrist muscles. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat eight times.
- Open up hands and spread the fingers are far as possible. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat eight times.
- Sometimes, gentle strengthening exercises may be used to complement these stretches, to rebalance the muscles in the hands and arms, and prevent problems. Consult with a hand therapist for appropriate exercises.
Summary of ASHT Healthy Usage Guidelines
Download the ASHT Alert
The American Society of Hand Therapists is a not-for-profit organization seeking to advance the specialty of hand therapy through communication, education, research and the establishment of clinical standards. ASHT’s 3,000 members in the United States, Canada and around the world strive to be recognized leaders in the hand therapy profession. For more information about hand therapy or to find a hand therapist in your area, visit www.asht.org.
Marji Hajic is a member of ASHT and an Occupational Therapist and a Certified Hand Therapist practicing in Santa Barbara, California. For more information on hand and upper extremity injuries, prevention and recovery, visit Hand Health Resources.