March 31, at 5:
Buzzfeed For Cassandra Smolcic, the trouble began at her dream internship. Handpicked to spend a summer working on movies at Pixar, the year-old logged marathon hours, and more than a few all-nighters, at her computer and tablet.
At first, she managed to ignore the mysterious pinching sensations in her hands and forearms. But by the time her internship ended and a full-time job offer rolled in, she could barely move her fingers.
For Skylar, a year-old in South Florida who loves her laptop, phone, and tablet, the breaking point came at the start of sixth grade last fall. Suddenly her neck, shoulders, and back felt strained whenever she rolled her head, as if invisible hands were yanking muscles apart from the inside.
To be a perpetually plugged-in, emailing, texting, sexting, swiping, Snapchatting, selfie-taking human being ina little thumb twinge is the price of admission. There are the media-anointed outliers: Patrick Lang, a San Francisco hand surgeon, sees more and more twenty- and thirtysomething tech employees with inexplicable debilitating pain in their upper limbs.
At best, we learn to endure our stiff necks and throbbing thumbs. At worst, a generation of people damage their bodies without realizing it. What we do know is that now more people are using multiple electronics - cell phones, smartphones, tablets, laptops, desktops - for more hours a day, starting at ever earlier ages.
Growing up in the Rust Belt city of Greensburg, Pennsylvania, Smolcic was the kid who was always sketching characters from movies and cartoons. She made clip-art greeting cards and banners, and high school newspaper layouts, on desktop computers.
At Susquehanna University, she went all in on graphic design as a career after she took a computer arts course on a whim. Consider the minimum biomechanics needed to work a smartphone. Put aside all the other risks - of getting depressed and lonely ; of sacrificing sleephearingeyesightand focus ; of dying while snapping selfies on cliffs, or texting while walking or driving.
The act of just using the thing is precarious. But a forward-leaning head shakes up this graceful arrangement: The upper body drifts back, the hips tilt forward, and pretty much everything else - the spine, the nerves below the neck, the upper limb muscles - tightens up.
Slouching is all too easy when we hold a phone in our outstretched hand or reach for a mouse. When we type on our laptops cross-legged or sprawled on our stomachs, our necks and shoulders strain from leaning into the low screens.
Our hands are uniquely capable of grasping objects, a useful trait for our branch—swinging primate ancestors. Especially remarkable are our opposable thumbs, free to flex, extend, curl, and press in all sorts of directions.
Yet they are when we flick through our phones or, worse, tablets. He also has his own line of smartphone styluses that double as pens, with colorful barrels made of manually mixed pigments, pressure-cast resin, and hand-dyed silk.
On a recent afternoon in his office, Markison asked me to make a fist around a grip strength measurement tool, with my thumb facing the ceiling.
It felt powerful, easy.Robin De Morgan is an independent investment banking professional and Chartered Accountant from the United Kingdom, with experience of property and infrastructure .
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