Poor posture and frequent mobile device use are prime culprits for dental force-related pain in your head, neck, and jaw.
And because the condition, known as “tablet neck,” is so common researchers at University of Nevada, Las Vegas wanted to find out who is most susceptible to condition — and what can be done to prevent it.
“Tablet Neck” Study
For the study, which was published in Journal of Physical Therapy Science, researchers surveyed 412 college students, staff, teachers and alumni about their tablet-using habits and any neck or shoulder distress. Stiffness, soreness, and aches and pains in the neck, upper back/shoulders, arms/hands or head were the most common complaints.
A whopping 55% of those surveyed reporting moderate discomfort…and 15% saying that they had lost sleep because of the pain.
It’s All in the Posture
You’d think that the more time you spend using a tablet, the more neck pain you’d have, right? Wrong. The study’s findings show this is not the case.
Specific postures were are the center of most of the pain problems.
A habit of slumping over your tablet and stretching your neck forward can create strain on the spine, which commonly leads to aches and pains in the neck, shoulders and upper back. Even sitting at a desk with the tablet flat in front of you can cause the problematic forward slump.
The study also uncovered a distinct gender gap. Women were more than twice as likely as men to report symptoms of tablet neck.
Preventing Pain From Tablet Use
Scientists recommend the following when using a tablet:
- Sit in a chair with a supportive back.
- Use a stand for your tablet rather than placing it on a flat surface, and attach an external keyboard so that you can maintain a more upright posture.
- Wear a posture-reminder device, which will beep or vibrate every time you slouch. These devices, sometimes called “posture trainers” or “posture coaches,” are available online.
Bottom line: Instead of giving up your beloved tablet computer or e-reader, making a few easy tweaks to your habits can greatly reduce your risk for tablet neck.
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