(By Victoria Allen, Daily Mail)

Women are twice as likely to suffer ‘iPad neck’ from hunching over tablet computers than men…

Up to 70% of women who use the devices suffer neck, back and shoulder pain, compared to less than a third of men, a study found.

The musculoskeletal problems are made worse if they use the tablets without a back rest, sitting on the floor or lying down.

Physical therapists at the University of Nevada say women may adopt more extreme postures when using the computers because they are shorter and have more narrow shoulders.

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A study of more than 400 people found women were 2.059 times more likely than men to suffer musculoskeletal symptoms. These mainly come in the form of neck stiffness, soreness and pain.

Lead author Dr Szu-Ping Lee from the University of Nevada, said the results were surprising and concerning, adding: ‘Theoretically, the more hours you spend bent over an iPad, the more neck and shoulder pain you experience, but what we found is that time is not the most important risk factor. Rather, it’s gender and specific postures.’ Workers glued to their smartphones have been reported to suffer ‘text neck’, with medics even warning of ‘texter’s thumb’ – a kind of repetitive strain injury – from long periods of tapping on mobile phone screens.

Musculoskeletal problems

The latest study found just over two-thirds of tablet users suffered musculoskeletal problems. But only 29.9% of males reported problems, compared with 70.1% of females.

The researchers wrote in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science: ‘While a tablet computer is not excessively heavy, users may maintain the posture for an extended time (i.e. more than 40% of subjects in this study used it more than three hours per day). The female gender’s generally lower muscle strength and smaller body size may predispose them to neck and shoulder symptoms during such use.’

Previous research has shown that women type on keyboards with more force than men, use more muscle activity and more extreme postures. This may be due to their height, shorter arms and smaller frames. But women were also more likely to use an iPad sitting on the floor, according to the study – 77% of females, compared to just under 30% of men.

Neck problems

The researchers surveyed 412 university students on their symptoms, finding almost 85% of problems were in the neck, and nearly two-thirds in the shoulder and upper back.

Dr Lee has advised people using tablets to place them on a stand for a more upright posture and use a chair with a back support, as well as exercising to strengthen neck and back muscles.

While All4Women endeavours to ensure health articles are based on scientific research, health articles should not be considered as a replacement for professional medical advice. Should you have concerns related to this content, it is advised that you discuss them with your personal healthcare provider.

Author: ANA Newswire