Okay; hands up who recognises this everyday irritation:
You’re faffing about, and then suddenly you need to crouch down or lean over: to tie a shoe-lace, pick up a child, smell a flower or rescue a shish kebab you’ve dropped on the pavement.
As you tip forwards, the space between your upper thighs and abdominal muscles decreasing, you are suddenly aware of the top and bottom of the glamorous, chic, multifunctional atmospherically connected smart phone tucked into your front jean or trouser pocket digging into your hip and thigh with perfect synchronicity.
Whoa! No thanks.
Ping. Up you go again, straightening up, digging out and transferring said chic smart phone to a, well, slightly smarter storage place – a back pocket or perhaps a surface near by.
And down you go again to complete the original action.
(This particular form of RSI – Repeatedly Stupid Inclination – is not to be confused with the lavatory based RSI suffered while turning and leaning over to flush said lavatory and watching said glamour phone slide out of your top pocket to plunge into the satanic stew below you for the fourth time in 3 weeks.)
So let’s have a closer look at this particularly ‘drinking bird’ RSI – three aspects of it to be precise: specifically; the efficiency, ergonomics and evolution of it.
The repetition of the action of bending down, straightening up, reordering the phone to a back pocket or some other place, and bending down and straightening up again in pursuit of one simple action is simply inefficient.
Any Time-and-Motion or statistical geek will clearly set out in no uncertain and equated terms how, regardless of from which vantage point you view this: either that of time and motion or that of consumption of physical energy (body muscle mass and the liquids salts and sugars required to ignite and drive them) it’s simply a waste of time and energy.
Secondly, in ergonomic terms, it is all wrong, in so many ways. From a physical design aspect, having something repeatedly digging into your iliopsoas muscle at the top of your hip joint creates imperfect motion, impairs good posture, decreases cognition, creates irregular or anomalous strain on lower back muscles and therefore, ergonomically, it is flawed.
It is bad design: from the point of view of the phone design, the trouser pocket design (position) and ultimately the design of the human body.
To be fair the latter only really becomes an issue if the two former design concepts render themselves impervious to change, immoveable in their conceptual (and physical) position due either to some crushing fashion mantra insisting on the pocket’s placement being ‘just so’ or our digital compulsive-obsessive need to view ever increasing amounts of content of ever decreasing quality and charm on increasingly bigger screens continues unabated.
Yes, for the observant out there, the science of ergonomics does collide with that of human behaviour at this juncture. The behavioural scientists would point to the fact that, if we keep putting our phone in ‘that front pocket’; if we continue to simultaneously squat and bend forwards to try to pick up the pair of discarded whatevers off the floor, said smart phone will continue to jag into our hip, continue to hurt and irritate and frustrate us; the chances are we will eventually stop doing it.
Current subjective research group of one (me) and some close friends seems to point to the opposite of the evolving learned behaviours law occurring though.
So, this all brings us nicely to the third aspect of discussion: Evolution.
The question in this pocket-meets-mobile-meets-human triangulation is not so much how it will evolve but rather which pillar of it will evolve.
So, one might suggest that the phone tech companies should be the ones to evolve (given that they spuriously upgrade stuff once a week roughly as it is so why not). Perhaps they could look to ‘soften’ the line of the phone, round the shape out, or perhaps even go the extra mile and create some breakthrough flexible tech – a mobile with a flexing hi res super screen set in a pliant, rubberised polymer with built in ‘give’: but I doubt it.
So what about the apparel companies? What about the fashion brands? American Eagle developing mobile friendly slung-front pockets jeans? Patched pockets constructed specifically to off set the jagging mobile mauling? Only if you could convince the mass wearer that they were still going to look as hot as a Hawaiian chilli and be able to sashay along life’s catwalk with no loss of WOW. Otherwise, open stitched slung pockets might get a little niche action from the software programmer in Shoreditch but otherwise Uh! Uh! I don’t think so.
So if we can’t rely on human intelligence to offset the problem, and for some reason the tech companies and the apparel companies get in cahoots with each other, and apply an intransigent and frankly fascist line in the sanctity of their existing design, the impacts on the human body could get kind of funny and kind of expensive kind of soon.
Given that 5 or 6 years typing from a bad keyboard position with an imperfectly height adjusted screen is about to plunge most developed economies, employers and insurance providers into a mire of RSI absence, claim and therapy (Last year 5.4 million days were lost in sick leave due to RSI and, every day, six workers left their jobs because of RSI) underwritten by a particular crisis in generational diversity (most of these sufferers are under 45, and just over half of them are women.) imagine what this could auger for the mobile mauled hip.
If the we continue to turn a blind eye to this issue what are the consequences for us physically, spiritually and culturally?
What would happen to our bodies? How would the iliopsoas and gluteus muscles adapt given that the gluteus alone connects the ilium, sacrum, and coccyx to the femur? What would happen to their shape and muscle type?
Would our core muscles adapt to compensate? OR become corrupted in their current form?
What would the offset or ‘referred’ symptoms and impacts be? Given that, especially in the hip and lower back, conditions induced by ‘referral’ from pre-existing conditions elsewhere is quite commonplace.
Would the impaired compression and twist incurred in every repetition of the action lead to greater likelihood of prolapse discs?
Would there be an indentation, or a coarsening of the hip bone just at the point of contact developed over time? Would that coarsening be so particular as to able to be identified in the skeletal remains we leave behind? One hundred years from now would a cold-case pathologist be able to know whether Jane Doe wore a particular style of American Eagle jeans and used a Samsung Notes III just by the nature, bevel and texture of a dent in her hip?
And then we have the socio-cultural impacts!
Would there be a new development of specific Pilates and Yoga instruction and Courses for sinus coxae, or ‘Pocket Hip’ as it would become colloquially known.
Would a cache develop around having or not having Pocket Hip? (or i-hip as the Apple Disciples would call it). Would i-hip suddenly be honoured with a Double Page Spread in Wired magazine?
The mind toggles!
Anyway, just putting it out there for you.