How Do You Avoid Strain On Your Neck Muscles?

A poised head is balanced on top of the spine. Your head weighs between 12-20 pounds and if it is not balanced on your spine, it pulls on your neck and spine, resulting in strain and injury.

Don’t get sucked in to your computer or smart phone or iPad. Pay attention to how you’re using yourself. If you read something interesting, you’re likely to forget about your use and to hunch around your computer, so keep some awareness of yourself as much as you can (until it becomes second nature).

The Los Angeles Times reports:

A new study published by researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health, in conjunction with researchers at Microsoft (a long-time Apple rival), is the first of its kind to examine the physical effects on the head, neck and shoulders of spending time staring at a tablet.

The good news is that it is not all bad news. The researchers found that people are more inclined to move around and shift positions when they use a tablet compared with people who are sitting at a desktop computer. That’s definitely good. However, tablet users that hold the device almost at their lap, or rest the tablet in a case on their lap, are putting a lot of strain on the neck muscles — much more than someone using a laptop or desktop computer.

“If you think about your position when you are hunched over looking down, your head is hanging out over space, so you are using your neck muscles to support the weight,” said Jack Dennerlein, director of the Harvard Occupational Biomechanics Laboratory, and lead author of the paper.

Definitely not good.

In the paper, published earlier this month in the peer reviewed “Work: A Journal of Prevention, Assessment, and Rehabilitation,” the researchers identified four ways that people use tablets — the lap-hand (holding the tablet down at your lap), lap-case (resting the tablet in a case on your lap), table-case (resting the tablet in its case on a shallow angle on a table) and table-movie (resting the tablet at a steep angle on a table).

They concluded that the best position is the table-movie position because it is the only position in which the user’s posture approached neutral. All the other positions put a lot of strain on the user’s neck muscles.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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