Women are two times more likely than men to experience pain in their neck during iPad use. This is mainly due to bad postures, warns a new study. iPad neck — a condition of persistent pain in the neck and upper shoulders caused by slouching or bending into extreme positions while using tablet computers — is also more prevalent among young people than older adults, said the study.
The findings, published in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science, suggest that posture, not screen-time, is the biggest factor behind neck and shoulder pain due to iPad use.
“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,” said lead study author Szu-Ping Lee from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
Postures that led to pain included those that cause the tablet user to “slump” over and gaze downward. The pain disparity among men and women might be explained by size and movement differences.
Women’s tendency to have lower muscle strength and smaller stature (for example, shorter arms and narrow shoulders) might lead them to assume extreme neck and shoulder postures while typing, according to the researchers. In the study, the team conducted a survey of over 400 people, including public university students, staff, faculty, and alumni who were touch-screen tablet computer users.
The results showed that 70 per cent of female respondents reported symptoms of iPad neck as compared to just under 30 per cent of men. Women were also more likely (77 per cent) to use their tablets while sitting on the floor than men (23 per cent).
Further, sitting without back support increased the odds of pain by two times. Sitting with the device on the lap or sitting on a chair with the tablet placed on a flat desk surface also contributed to the pain.
The researchers found that the university students, staff and alumni they studied reported a higher prevalence of neck and shoulder pain than the general population. Sitting on chairs with back support and exercising to strengthen muscles are some steps that users could take to avoid pain due to iPad use, according to the researchers.