Have you been using your laptop, cell phone or tablet more Lately? Since most of us have been at home for awhile due to Covid 19 most likely your use has really increased. And with that comes the risk of straining your neck and shoulder muscles, not to mention other body parts like your back, wrists and more. So let’s look at the symptoms in your neck and shoulders when you’re using a tablet or phone.
Studies have identified significant risk factors for musculoskeletal symptoms during use of device. And no surprise there’s a greater incidence of neck symptoms (84%) then shoulder/arm symptoms (65%). Some of the risk factors which led to increased rates were sitting without back support, sitting with device in lap and lying on the side or back during use. From all these postural factors, sitting without back support was identified as the most important for having musculoskeletal symptoms. And in one study women were more than twice as likely as men to experience symptoms.
Postures that led to pain included when the user slumped over and looked downward, sat with the device in the lap and sitting in a chair with the tablet on a flat surface or desk. Sitting without back support increased the likelihood of pain more than two-fold. Surprisingly only 46% said when they experienced pain or discomfort they stopped using the device.
So what can you do to improve this? First, always sit in a chair with back support and use the support! I know I’ve been guilty of leaning forward in the chair and not even resting my back onto the support. Don’t do this! Use the back support to support you. There’s technology devices that remind you when your postures off – a wearable alert when you’re slouching. When sitting at a table or desk use a desk-top easel or stand to place your tablet on instead of on the flat surface. This enables a more upright posture with less turning your neck to look down at your tablet. Invest in a portable keyboard to attach to your tablet or phone. They’re not much and they provide many benefits.
Lastly, do exercises to strengthen your neck and shoulder muscles. Just as important, stretch. Take regular breaks and move your head in circles, going both ways around to the right and then to the left. Tilt your head to the right with your right ear towards the shoulder and hold. Repeat on the left side. Then rotate your neck around to look over your right shoulder and then your left one. Finally, raise your shoulders toward your ears then press them down as far as you can and hold. Do a few circles with your shoulders and your ready to continue.
I hope these suggestions give you some ideas on improving your posture when using your device, using technology or a portable keyboard to help and remembering to listen to, not ignore your pain and to stop and stretch.