According to a new study conducted by the Department of Physical Therapy at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, bad posture is associated with using smartphones, tablet computers and other electronic devices that are widely used nowadays. The persistent neck and shoulder pain that is more commonly found in women than men is referred to as “iPad neck” by the study.
A new study was released in The Journal of Physical Therapy Science and it describes how the popularity of tablet computers affects our back. The study mostly refers to Apple’s iPad when conducting the study. The study indicates that the increased use of these devices has led to several conditions associated with poor head and neck posture, which results in an unnecessary but high strain on the body.
“Theoretically, the more hours you spend bent over an iPad, the more neck and shoulder pain you experience — but what we found is that time is not the most important risk factor. Rather, it’s gender and specific postures,” UNLV physical therapy professor and lead author of the study Szu-Ping Lee to UNLV News Center told idropnews.
In the survey UNLV researchers conducted, there were 84% of participants that could sense the signs of discomfort that is connected to the tablet usage. They also experienced stiffness, soreness and aching in the neck and upper back shoulder, which are the most commonly felt symptoms of the iPad neck condition.
The results of the survey also showed that a lot of young adults felt discomfort and back pain as they were frequently using electronic devices like the iPad in positions that are not the most comfortable for the human body. It’s worth adding that students don’t always have static workstations and that it often appears that they sit in areas without back support.
“Our results showed that using the tablet computer in more uncommon postures such as lying on the side or on the back was significantly associated with symptoms. This was in agreement with previous findings that non-neutral joint angles from non-desk usage of laptop computers can lead to greater levels of discomfort,” the team explains as per the report.
“One’s posture often depends on the available supporting surfaces and environments (e.g. holding a device in hand while sitting in a chair). Prolonged cervical flexion is commonly observed when the tablet computer is placed flat on a desk or when held in a position below eye level. This may cause the cervical extensor muscles to lengthened and put a larger load on these muscles. It is logical that the postures users assume when using tablet computers can have implications for developing neck and shoulder symptoms.”
Furthermore, the study about iPad neck also discovered that there is a higher risk in women suffering from this condition. The data the team collected of the back pain that came from the position affected mostly women, with 70% of women who participated in the study felt the same symptoms, while there were only 29.9% of men participants with the same symptoms. The study explains that this is a result of gender differences like measurements and proportion of the human body, although there’s nothing conclusive that explains this difference.
Preventing iPad Neck
The condition sounds quite concerning, just like other conditions that cause bad posture. However, there are things we can do to improve our posture or prevent it from becoming compromised. Make sure to find a chair that has good back support. You could also use an iPad stand that displays the device in an upright position. More importantly, make sure to take breaks from using electronic devices like tablet computers often and your posture will be improved.