Tablet Use and Neck Muscles

Recent research at Washington State University identified a greater incidence of neck muscle strain while using a tablet compared to sitting with the head in a neutral position.  Participants were tested in multiple positions while reading and typing for 2 to 5 minutes. They study was designed to help evaluate head and neck “biomechanics during tablet use, and the implications for neck musculature.”

Some interesting findings and outcomes from the research included:

  • More than half of people aged 35-49 use tablets regularly
  • Participants in the study used the tablets in different positions – handheld, on a table and in the lap – both with and without stands.  X-rays were taken to document neck postures during these tasks.

Anita Vasavada, one of the study’s lead researchers noted that “increasing sales and use of tablet PCs in the home have brought an anecdotal association between neck pain, neck muscle fatigue and use of tablets and touch-screen devices; however, we can’t say definitively that chronic neck pain is caused by their devices.”








Key takeaways and suggestions:

  • It is likely that abnormal postures adopted while using tablet PCs may increase mechanical loads in the neck
  • The lowest demand on the neck was when the tablet was in a high propped position (see photos)
  • Using good ergonomics such as neutral postures will reduce the incidence of strain

Want to learn more:

Mobile Phones and Tablet Tips (University of California)