iPad and Neck Pain

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iPads and other tablet devices are soaring in popularity. It’s predicated that by 2015,  more than 80 million Americans will use tablets regularly. While tablets provide new convenience to mobile computing, the devices are putting excessive strain on our necks and backs according to a new study from the Harvard School of Public Health. Daily tablet use may even  lead to chronic pain or musculoskeletal conditions.

Researchers in the study evaluated the posture of 15 experienced tablet users as they computed with their tablets in different seating positions. They  discovered that in order to view the screens, users titled their necks and heads at angles which could cause excessive muscle straining and loading. It turns out that those touch screens–while maximizing portability–force people to crank their neck at angles greater than seen in normal desktop computers.  Honestly, I don’t think it takes being a researcher to see that our society loves it’s electronics and we’re always looking down at them.  At a restaurant, in a doctor’s waiting room, while walking, even in the car, we are constantly looking down at our devices!

The worst posture for iPad tablet computing is holding the device in your lap since it forces you  to bend your neck significantly. Instead, researchers recommended tablet users elevate their devices so that their necks are in a more neutral position. Try propping up the tablet on a table or connect a separate keyboard to the device while typing to prevent future pain.  When I’m using my tablet or even my lap top, on the couch or in bed, I like to place a fluffy pillow on my lap, and then stead the iPad on top of the pillow.  When at your desk, try sitting up straight and being mindful of slouching, and hold your phone a little higher so that you’re not craning your neck down.

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Reference

Young J, Trudeau M, Odell D, Marinelli K, Dennerlein J. Touch-screen tablet user configurations and case-supported tilt affect head and neck flexion angles. Work: A Journal of Prevention, Assessment and Rehabilitation 2012; 41 (1): 91-91. doi: 10.3233/WOR-2012-1337.

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