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iPad Tablet Linked to Shoulder and Neck Pain

iPad Tablet Linked to Shoulder and Neck Pain

You love your iPad tablet, don't you? With a screen larger than a smartphone yet smaller than a laptop, it's the perfect companion to check e-mail, watch a movie or read a book on the go. But the convenience of iPads and other tablet computers may come at a cost: Researchers from Harvard's School for Public Health found that these go-anywhere digital gadgets may also contribute to shoulder and neck pain.

The problem develops when you position the iPad tablet flat on a table or on your lap so it forces your head and neck to be "flexed at various low angles for long periods of time," according to a recent study published in Work: A Journal of Prevention, Assessment, and Rehabilitation.

"Compared to typical desktop computing scenarios, there may be more of a concern of neck and shoulder discomfort," says lead investigator Jack Dennerlein of Harvard's Department of Environmental Health.

How can you avoid "iPad shoulder"? The researchers recommend positioning the iPad tablet on a table at its highest angle to avoid looking downward, and to attach a keyboard when you need to type.

If you've already got shoulder and neck pain from bad iPad ergonomics (and your doctor has confirmed that it's simple pain and not something more serious), strength training can help ease it. Try these three exercise moves:

  • Reverse fly: Hold light to medium weights. From a seated position and leaning forward slightly, lift your arms straight out to your sides, squeezing your shoulder blades together. Do 1 to 3 sets of 10 to 15 reps three times a week.
  • Arm rows: Hold a light to medium weight in each hand. Stand with knees slightly bent and lean forward, keeping your back flat. (Don't lean farther than 90 degrees.) Keep your abs tight. Bend your elbows and pull the weights upward until they are level with your waist. Squeeze your shoulder blades together as you lift. Do 1 to 3 sets of 10 to 15 reps three times a week.
  • Upright rows: Stand straight, knees slightly bent, with a light to medium weight in each hand. Grip the weights with your arms straight and palms facing back. Bend elbows outward and upward, lifting the weights straight up until they are at chest height (with elbows pointing outward). Avoid shrugging your shoulders as you lift. Do 1 to 3 sets of 10 to 15 reps three times a week.
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