Problems Associated with Smartphones

Pew Research Center reports that as of 2018, 77% of Americans now own a smartphone. With the rising number of people owning smartphones, it is important to remember good posture while using your smartphone to avoid neck, shoulder, and hand injuries. The most common injuries seen with smartphone use are neck, shoulder, or hand pain due to overuse or repetitive motions or numbness and tingling into your fingers.

Tips to avoid hand, neck, and shoulder pain while using your smartphone:

  • Use one hand to hold the phone and your index finger on the opposite hand to scroll and type. This position gives your thumbs a break and prevents pain in your thumbs.
  • Make sure to keep your messages short to avoid having to type or use a word prediction or speech to text feature to reduce the amount of time you need to type.
  • Try to limit the number of emails sent from your phone, use a computer when possible.
  • Take frequent breaks when using your phone to stretch and avoid fatigue and overuse of muscles.
  • When talking on the phone, change hands frequently and use a hands-free option such as speakerphone or earpiece when able. This tip allows you to avoid maintaining your elbow in a flexed position for prolonged periods and prevents you from holding your phone between your shoulder and neck.
  • Keep your wrists in neutral/straight when using your phone, avoid bending your wrist.
  • When purchasing a new phone, ensure it fits your hand and you can easily reach across it with your thumb to avoid straining your muscles.
  • Hold your phone up to around eye level; this prevents you from holding your neck in a flexed position. When you hold your neck in a flexed position, it puts more strain on your neck. As the picture demonstrates below, when your neck is in neutral, there is only 10-12 lbs of force on your neck. However, as you flex your neck more, such as to 45 degrees you now have 49 lbs of force on your neck.

What if you have pain from poor smartphone posture?

If you feel as though you are having pain as a result of using devices and it is not going away, you can seek treatment from a Physical or Occupational Therapist. They can provide you with hands-on care focused on your specific needs.

Using Smart Phone Wisely: Prevent Pain. (n.d.). Retrieved February 21, 2019, from

Demographics of Mobile Device Ownership and Adoption in the United States. (2018, February 05). Retrieved February 21, 2019, from

Adrienne Loukopoulos graduated from St. Norbert College with a bachelors of science with a biomedical concentration. She then pursued Occupational Therapy at Mount Mary University where she graduated with a Master’s in Occupational Therapy.