If you spend a lot of time staring down at a tablet, technology can really be a pain in the neck.
It makes sense when you consider what happens to your spine and posture when you constantly use a tablet or a smartphone. According to a recent UNLV study in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science, “iPad neck” or “tablet neck” is caused by slouching or bending into extreme positions while using tablet computers. When people use a tablet, they’re often sitting without back support while slumping over a tablet that rests in their lap. You can also become sore from lying on your side or back and trying to use your tablet.
It’s a problem that appears to affect mostly young adults, the study found. Women were also more at risk to experience musculoskeletal symptoms when compared to men.
Postures that led to pain included those that cause the tablet user to slump over and gaze downward. Three common positions were: sitting without back support, sitting with the device in the lap and sitting in a chair with the tablet placed on a flat desk surface.
If you find yourself in pain, there are steps you can take to alleviate and prevent it. UNLV physical therapy professor Szu-Ping Lee, lead author of the study, offered these four suggestions:
- Sit with in a chair with back support.
- Use a posture reminder device. Also known as “posture trainers” or “posture coaches,” these small, wearable devices adhere directly to the skin or clip on to clothing and beep to let you know when you’re slouching.
- Take a stand. Place your iPad on a stand (rather than a flat surface) and attach a keyboard in order to achieve a more upright posture when using your tablet.
- Exercise to strengthen neck and shoulder muscles. This is particularly important for women who experience neck and shoulder pain.
“Using these electronic devices is becoming a part of our modern lives,” Lee said. “In order to reduce the risk of developing long-term neck and shoulder problems, we need to think about how technology like tablet computers affects human ergonomics and posture.”
Source: UNLV news release