6 tips to prevent neck, shoulder pain when using an iPad or computer, from the Harvard Health Letter

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Using a tablet computer can cause neck and shoulder pain. Putting it on a table propped at an angle can prevent these problems.

One of the best things to do, no matter what kind of computer you are using, is take a break.

Hours spent using an iPad or other tablet can cause neck and shoulder problems. Blame it on the viewing angle. A simple shift can change everything, reports the October 2012 Harvard Health Letter.

Holding a tablet computer too low, say on the lap, forces the neck to bend forward too much, straining and possibly even injuring muscles, nerves, tendons, ligaments, or spinal discs. Simply placing a tablet on a table propped at an angle in a tablet case can reduce neck strain and potential pain, according to research conducted by Dr. Jack Dennerlein and his colleagues at the Harvard School of Public Health.

One of the best things to do, no matter what kind of computer you are using, is take a break. "Change your position every 15 minutes," says Dr. Dennerlein, an adjunct professor of ergonomics and safety at the Harvard School of Public Health. Other tips include:

When using an iPad or tablet:

  • Use a case that positions the device at a comfortable viewing angle
  • Routinely shift hands and weight; stand up if seated, or sit down if standing

When using a laptop or desktop computer, follow the same tips for a tablet plus:

  • Use an external keyboard
  • Keep shoulders relaxed and elbows close to the body
  • Keep hands, wrists, forearms, and thighs parallel to the floor

Read the full-length article: "Prevent pain from computer use"

Also in the October 2012 issue of the Harvard Health Letter:

  • A breakthrough drug for women with breast cancer who have run out of options.
  • Dark chocolate helps protect arteries over the long term
  • Food is the best way to get calcium

The Harvard Health Letter is available from Harvard Health Publications, the publishing division of Harvard Medical School, for $16 per year. Subscribe at http://www.health.harvard.edu/heart or by calling 877-649-9457 (toll-free).

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Media: Contact Natalie Ramm at hhpmedia(at)hms(dot)harvard(dot)edu for a complimentary copy of the newsletter, or to receive our press releases directly.

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