By Sue Shekut, Owner, Working Well Massage, Licensed Massage Therapist, Certified Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer
I see people on a weekly basis that have pain in their necks, shoulders and backs due to smart phone and now iPad use. With the new Samsung Galaxy tablet and other iPad-type devices hitting the markets, I see a whole new host of massage and physical therapy clients on the horizon. While that’s great that the client base for massage and physical therapy is expanding, it means that more people may be injuring themselves through improper postural habits and excessive use of these handy devices.
The main problem is that most people hold their tablet devices about chest or even waist level, forcing their necks into hyper flexion. This puts strain on the upper back muscles, the suboccipital muscles (those little muscles in the back of your neck that connect from the base of the skull to first few cervical vertebrae and between the first two cervical vertebrae), and other neck muscles.
According to Nav Gill at Neck Pain Support in her post, The Neck Pain Associated with Occipital Neuralgia, “Occipital neuralgia refers to having pain and muscle spasms that come specifically from the base of the skull, the subocciptal area.” One of the causes they list is whiplash (often from car accidents). Yet another cause is holding your head down and forward for prolonged periods of time. And what do most people do when they use tablets? Look down for long periods of time.
So what can you do to help save your neck and shoulders from pain and strain from tablet use? There are a host of cool products coming out that hold and support the tablets sot hat you can place them at a viewing angle that doe snot cause excess strain on your neck and upper back muscles. I’ve listed a few of the more highly rated products below. Let me know if you try any out and they help you!
Cyber Acoustics IC-1000BK Leather iPad Cover/Case
At Amazon for about $36. Stand to prop at 14° typing angle or 76° viewing angle. Click here for link to product page.
I like that the case is easy to use and can be set up at two different angles. However, the lower viewing angle doesn’t do much to relieve neck pain. It’s still too low of a viewing angle to suit me.
However, if you place the stand at a higher viewing angle, it allows you to set up your tablet (iPad or whatever flavor you use) at a much more comfortable viewing angle.
The downside, is that this stand requires you to place the tablet on a flat surface. So it’s useful for desktops or tables but not so great for public transaction viewing (on your lap basically when you ride on buses and trains). amazon reviewers give this stand high marks.
R1 ET Arm Series Portable Stand Desktop Holder for iPad, iPad 2, ASUS Eee Pad Transformer, Motorola Xoom, Samsung Galaxy Tab, Galaxy Tab, ViewSonic gTablet, BlackBerry Playbook, HTC Flyer and more
For $50 at Amazon you can get this snazzy device. It holds all tablets at a comfortable viewing angle. the trick is to place the stand high enough so that you can view it like normal monitor. But again, it requires a hard surface to stand upright. Specs:
- Solid aluminum construction and extremely portable (comes with a carrying bag)
- Cable Management and free stop at any angle using hinge technology
- Compatible with the iPad 1st and 2nd generations, most tablet PC including Samsung Galaxy Tab and more (for tablet PC size up to 10″) and smartphones (iPhone, Galaxy and more)
- Non skid material on base keeps the stand secure on flat surfaces
- Position your device in multiple angles in landscape or portrait view
- Weight about 1 pound
360-degree Rotatable Holder Stand for Apple iPad 2 2nd Generation 16GB 32GB 64GB 3G Wifi
This stand intrigues me because it claims to be able to rotate your tablet 360 degrees. It;s made from aluminum and the product description says it’s made for iPad 2. Will it fit other tablets? Likely not due to its design. No one at Amazon has reviewed this product. Its’ only about $18 so I suspect it may not wear well over time. But check it out if you have an iPad 2 and you want a low-cost stand. Click here to link to product page.
There are a number of other stands on Amazon. Most of them are some variation of the stands above. Click here for a list of the top tablet stands at Amazon.
Human Tablet Stand
For most people who want to use their iPads, galaxy tabs and Blackberry tabs on their laps on the bus, train or plane, I’m still a big fan of the elbow, lap backpack solution. It’s not shiny nor elegant. But you can bring your elbow and lap with you wherever you go. All you need to do is add some height to your lap with a backpack or bag. And then anchor your elbows into your lap/backpack to hold your forearms upright. Check out this post about holding your smart phone in your lap and the picture below for an example. The woman in the pic is holding a smartphone but it could be an iPad or other tablet as well.
- Save Your Neck and Shoulders With this Tablet/Smart Phone Stand from Satechi (workingwellresources.com)