Your smartphone device can be a literal pain in your neck, according to a new study from University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Researchers found that the overwhelming majority —84.6%— of tablet computer users are suffering from an “iPad neck,” or neck stiffness, soreness, and aches associated with tablet use.
But the neck pain did not pick its targets equally. In the survey of 412 participants, women were twice as likely to have it, with 70% of female participants reporting neck discomfort, compared to just 30% of male participants. The researchers suggested that biology may explain the difference because women tend to have shorter arms and narrower shoulders than men, which could lead to them adopting more extreme postures as they hold their tablets.
What’s causing your neck pain
When we look down at our phones, As you sit on a stool scrolling through apps on your iPad, you are setting yourself up for future pain, because the position slumps our body, which strains our necks. “It has been shown that in a slump sitting position, greater cervical and thoracic extensor activities are required to support the head in the forward position,” the study warned. The biggest culprit of neck pain was sitting without back support, the study found. People who sat in a chair without back support were twice as likely to have neck pain than those who sat in a chair with back support.
Looking down is already hard enough on our necks, in other words. But technology can make this “iPad neck” syndrome worse because it invites us to stay in pretzel contortions so that we can finish watching television on our handheld tablet devices. The researchers found that tablet users were more likely to lie on their side, a risky posture that can “potentially induce non-neutral joint angles and stress in upper extremities and cervical spine.”
So next time you are hypnotized by your tablet screen, remember to straighten yourself, sit in a proper chair, and look up. Your neck will thank you.