Mobile technology, friend or foe?

tech-neck_blogWe all love our tablets, smartphones and iPads. But do they love us?

The dangers of sitting in front of a computer for too long have been well documented. But now there is a fresh wave of injuries linked to this latest technology.

A new study from Washington State University and published in Ergonomics journal found that devices such as iPads put three times as much strain on our neck muscles than desktop computers.

Previous research found bending the head at a 60-degree angle to look at a phone screen put 60lb, or 27kg, worth of pressure on the spine above the shoulders - heavier than the weight of an average seven your old.

Tony Kochhar, dubbed the UK's leading shoulder doctor, says he has been treating up to 20 patients a week for shoulder problems caused by using iPads, also known as iPad shoulder.

Tablets and smartphones can cause tension and pain because the neck is often in a prolonged downward posture. Even when people use a touchscreen in a vertical position as a monitor, the neck and shoulders can often become fatigued and sore.

Texting on smartphones often relies on the dominant thumb, which causes the tendon sheath to become inflamed, a condition known as de Quervain's tenosynovitis.

Even holding a cellphone up to your ear for too long can cause compression of the ulnar nerve in the funny-bone area, called cellphone elbow.

Here at Posturite we have a range of products to support your posture whilst using mobile devices, including a wide range  of ergonomic laptop & iPad solutions and even office phone headsets in both wired, wireless and Bluetooth versions.

How can I use my device safely?

For smartphones:

  • Look away from the screen regularly to relax eyes
  • Increase font size
  • Avoid lengthy input periods
  • When large amounts of inputting is required - use a PC or laptop
  • To reduce typing, consider calling instead
  • Vary the fingers you use and stop frequently to stretch
  • Consider using an external keyboard
  • Hold device up to reduce bending of the neck

For iPads and tablets:

  • When reading, use a stand or tilt the tablet to reduce the need for you to bend your head forward
  • Place the tablet on a surface rather than holding it. If you are using the on-screen keyboard for extended periods, consider using a bluetooth external keyboard
  • Use a light touch when using the screen, it will be more efficient as well as preventing problems
  • When typing or touching the screen regularly have the tablet flat or only slightly angled to ensure your wrists are not in awkward positions
  • Keep your screen clean for good visibility and hygiene reasons
  • If you find yourself using a tablet intensively for more than 10-20 minutes take a short break, stretch your hands, shoulders and neck and look into the distance to relax your eyes

For more advice and information, visit our useful resources section.