PSA to Protect Your Thumbs

Photo by on Unsplash.

Who has two thumbs and is about to blow your mind? *Points to self.* This girl.

I’m sure you’ve heard all the PSA’s before. The ones that warn us about the effects of smoking, steroids in the meat we eat, flu shot conspiracy theories, and even the toxins in our skin care products. With that being said, I bet my right hand that this is the first PSA you’ll ever read about the dangers of texting and Carpal Tunnel.  

Having only come to inception within the past 20 years, texting is still relatively new but has slowly become the most dominant method of communication and a part of our everyday life. Don’t fret, I’m not here to ramble on about how our lack of face-to-face interaction is affecting our interpersonal skills or how straining our necks from staring at our phones all day is causing a poor posture epidemic. Rather, I approach this with a more practical message: take care of your thumbs. Just think about it for a minute. How many hours a day do you spend typing away on your phone and more importantly, what are the two primary joints you use while you do it? If you guessed correctly, you get two thumbs up.  

Now, let’s play a game. If you’re an avid smartphone user I want you to hold your hands in front of you and measure the space between your ring and pinky finger and compare it to the amount of space between the rest of your fingers. You will notice the gap is much bigger and if you’re wondering why; pick up your phone and look at how you hold it in your hands. If you’re still not completely convinced that the weathering effect of technology is to blame, go pay a visit to your great grandma or your hermit aunt Lesley and you’ll be surprised (or maybe not) to find the extra space is nonexistent.

Now you’re probably wondering — what does this have to do with my thumbs, though? I’m glad you asked. The recent shift in technological advances and the dependency we’ve developed on our cellphones are causing us strains that haven’t even been around long enough for people to see the full consequences of yet. When we think of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome our mind likely wanders first to our mom’s hairdresser who always complains about her sore wrist or the miserable cashiers we see at the local Costco wearing elbow braces — and you’re not wrong, but the times they are changing. Carpal Tunnel is mainly caused by performing repetitive tasks, which creates a pressure on your nerve that runs through the wrist and into your hand.

Let’s do some math. You wake up, check your phone, shower, check your phone, eat breakfast while checking your phone, go to school and never stop checking your phone, come home and try and do homework but keep getting distracted by your phone, go to bed (but we both know that’s code for trolling memes on your phone) and then wake up and do it all over again. Now multiply those by the x amount of years you’ve already owned a cellphone then add that number to the span of the rest of your life and what does that equal? That’s right: Carpal Tunnel.

We are on the verge of becoming an entire generation who will be simultaneously suffering from Carpal Tunnel in our thumbs purely due to how smartphones were built and how attached we are to them. Most of the time, a proper PSA will come paired with comforting statistics and preventive measures, but to tell you the truth I know about as much about this as hermit aunt Lesley knows how a microwave works. Although I can’t give you answers, knowledge is power and it’s better to be informed and dumbfounded than naïve and left in the dark, right? Only time can tell what will become our favourite digits in this mechanically driven, consumer-based world we call home. So the next time you want send your BFF a novel about how terrible your Tinder date went or how much you hate your boss, maybe think about your already overworked, little opposable friends and give them a call instead.

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