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ealthy Computing Tips

Healthy Computing: Hold the Phone

© Erik Peper PhD

The following is one in an ongoing series of columns entitled Healthy Computing Tips by Erik Peper PhD. View all columns in series
Do you tuck the phone when you multi-task, such as searching the computer for information to answer a question? This habit of raising one shoulder and tilting your head in an asymmetrical position causes excessive muscle contractions and reduces blood flow to the muscles. Arm, wrist and hand symptoms often become aggravated. Avoid tension and lighten the strain in your neck and shoulders when you HOLD THE PHONE.


When talking on the phone use a headset while simultaneously performing other tasks such as data entry and writing notes. Headsets are economical and lightweight and most have good sound quality. Headsets are readily available for portable and cell phones -making it easier to talk while working, walking, driving, gardening, cooking or sipping a cooler.

If you do not have a headset and must multi-task when conversing on the phone:

  • Do only one task at a time. Put the person on hold, put the phone down, take a breath and smile, perform the task and then pick up the phone and continue your conversation.
  • Use a speakerphone.
  • Hold the handset with your hand while talking; switch sides during the conversation.

If you absolutely must tuck the phone, do so infrequently and for very short periods of time. Practice frequent neck and shoulder relaxation techniques and alternate sides.

Avoid attachable phone rests that claim to make tucking more comfortable. They DO NOT significantly reduce neck and shoulder tension.

Copyright 2002 Erik Peper, Ph.D. and Katherine Hughes Gibney

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About The Author
Erik Peper, Ph.D. is an international authority on biofeedback and self-regulation. He is Professor and Co-Director of the Institute for Holistic Healing Studies, Department of Health Education, at San Francisco State University. He is President of the Biofeedback Foundation of Europe (2005) and past President of the Association for Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback.......more
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