If there was ever a way to hurt your neck at rest, then sitting in a chair with your tablet in your lap seems about the quickest way. However a recent Harvard study has thrown up some interesting results in the ways tablets also minimise neck strain. For one, the tablet is exceptionally mobile, and people using it tended to move about. The same probably couldn’t be said for a computer screen sitting at an inappropriate height on your desk.
So what should we take from all this? Well, for starters, have a good think about how you use all your devices – and that includes your smartphone, computer and your TV. If you do sit for a long time in front of something, consider it a potential hazard for your neck muscles. Ultimately, you want to do everything with your neck as neutral or rested as possible. That means looking straight ahead, not down, up, or to the side. For those with computers at work this means ensuring your screen is at eye-level. Having the keyboard set so your arms are at rest from your shoulder and not ‘hanging’ – adding more strain to the neck – is likewise important.
As for your tablet, Harvard has done a lot of that work for us. Their findings recommend tablets to be used in cases or mounts you can place upright on a table as near as possible to your eye-level. Again, keeping your arms at rest on that table will also be important to your posture. The Harvard researchers also found that moving constantly while using the tablet will help avoid the neck muscles being strained in the one position for too long.
Smartphones are another dilemma. They don’t usually have cases that can be sat on a table, but then again, they are smaller and lighter. On the face of it, using these handheld devices should again be done at a table, this time with your elbows resting, and your arms elevating the device to eye-level. Not necessarily the silver bullet in ergonomics, but at least better for your neck.
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