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Teenage text lives causing pain

CSP press release published on 29 July 2008

Physiotherapists issue advice for exam results day

As thousands of students in Britain get set to receive their exams results in the coming weeks, chartered physiotherapists are urging young people to take steps to ward off text message injury (TMI).

An average of over 142 million texts are sent every day in Britain (1). Survey results released today by the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) show that the text lives of teenagers in particular are becoming a pain (2):

  • Just over third (34 per cent) of young people aged 16-24 interviewed in a GB survey send an average of 20 or more texts a day.  
  • One in six (16 per cent) of 16-24 year olds interviewed had experienced discomfort in their hands when they text 
  • A small number have also felt discomfort in their wrists, arms, neck and shoulders.

In light of these findings, chartered physiotherapists are urging people, young and old, to learn good text habits to prevent the onset of TMI.

Bronwyn Clifford, chartered physiotherapist specialising in ergonomic health and CSP spokesperson, says: ‘Texting is a great way to communicate – especially to pass on news about exam results – but mobile phones are not ergonomically designed for excessive texting and they require repetitive movements to operate them. Too much texting can result in pain and swelling of the tendons at the base of the thumb and wrist.’

The CSP’s survey also revealed differences in the texting habits of young people around Britain:

  • Respondents in Scotland emerged as the survey’s top texters. Almost two thirds (65 per cent) send 20 or more texts a day – well over the British survey average 
  • Respondents in East Midlands were second on the list with 55 per cent sending 20 or more messages
  • Those in the South East came third with 41 per cent sending 20 or more texts a day
  • Texting was least popular among respondents in West Midlands, London and Yorkshire & The Humber. In the North, no respondent texted 20 or more messages a day.

(For a full, regional breakdown of the number of texts sent on an average day, see below)

In the run up to students’ big day, the CSP is giving advice to help texters reduce the risk of developing painful TMI. 

Bronwyn, who specialises in treating upper limb disorders, says texters need to think about the frequency, duration and intensity of their texting: ‘Keep messages short and use abbreviations and the predictive text function on your phone. Try to restrict text sessions to 5-10 minutes and avoid holding the phone if you are not using it or are waiting for a response as this will help prevent muscle fatigue from continuous grasping.’

For further advice on how to avoid TMI from text messaging, the CSP has produced a 5-step safe texting programme (see below).

Ends

Notes to editors

For further information on safe texting, please call the CSP press office on 020 7306 6163 /6628 or on 07795 564 240 (Prabh Salaman).

1. Mobile Data Association

2. The CSP text message survey was carried out by BMRB Omnibus Surveys during 6- 15 June 2008 via a telephone omnibus. 177 adults in GB aged 16-24 were interviewed

3. Regional breakdown of the number of texts sent on an average day:

Average No. Daily Texts
Rank
Region
Respondents (%)
Base

20 +
1
Scotland
65
17

 
2
East Midlands
55
9

 
3
South East
41
27

 
4
Wales
35
14

 
5
North West**
34
18

 
6
East Anglia
27
11

 
7
West Midlands
23
18

 
8
London
22
32

 
9
Yorks & The Humber
21
14

 
 
 
 
 

40+
 
East Midlands
33
9

 
 
South West
27
15

 
 
Scotland
24
17

 
 
South East
19
27

 
 
North West**
17
18

 
 
Wales
14
14

 
 
Yorks & The Humber
14
14

 
 
London
9
32

 
 
West Midlands
6
18

 
 
 
 
 

1-9
 
North*
50
2

*North = Cumbria; Northumberland; Durham; Tyne & Wear; and Cleveland

**North West = Lancashire; Cheshire; Merseyside; and Manchester

4. When exam results are announced in Britain over the coming weeks, students will inevitably share their news with family and friends. The CSP’s survey showed mothers are the most popular person to text with both good and bad news. A third of all respondents would text mum in both cases. Fathers came bottom of the list – below partners and friends.

5. The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy is the professional, educational and trade union body for the UK’s 49,000 chartered physiotherapists, physiotherapy students and assistants

 

The CSP 5-step programme to safe texting

(1) Hold the phone up with the screen facing towards you so you are not having to flex your neck too much as you look down to view the screen.

(2) Keep your hands close to your body. The weight of a phone may not feel much, but the load on your arm is significantly increased if the arm is held out stretched and this action will put strain on your neck and shoulder muscles.

(3) Try to use both hands together when texting to “spread the load”. Keep messages short and use abbreviations and the predictive text messaging feature on your phone. This will help reduce the repetitive motion of pressing various keys.

(4) Don’t text continuously. Try to take breaks by putting the phone down between text messages.

(5) Carry out the following two exercises to prevent text message injury:

  • Regularly open your fingers and stretch them out.
  • Stretch your arm out, rotate your wrist so it is facing upwards and with your other hand pull your palm down towards the floor to feel a stretch over the front of your forearm muscles. Hold for 15 seconds and repeat 2-3 times.

 

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