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Six ways to prevent neck and shoulder pain when using an iPad

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iPad and neck pain

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

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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" here.

The Harvard Health Letter is available from Harvard Health Publications, the publishing division of Harvard Medical School.

Written by Natalie Ramm (hhpmedia@hms.harvard.edu)