Avoid musculoskeletal complaints commonly associated with the use of tablets and smartphones.
With the increased use and simplicity of smartphones and tablet devices, there is an alarming rise in the number of patients with musculoskeletal complaints resulting from the use of these devices.
When using a tablet, greater stress and strain is placed on the neck and upper back compared to using desktop computers. Looking downwards towards the tablet screen places extra strain through your upper shoulders and neck muscles, ligaments and joints.
Another common area of injury is around the wrist. Greater stress and strain is placed on the wrist due to the need to bend the wrist backwards with the use of a touch screen. In addition, the hand which usually holds the tablet is often positioned awkwardly with excessive rotation on the wrist and stretching of the thumb. These end of range wrist and hand positions place excessive stress and strain on the surrounding tendons, muscles, ligaments and joints. As a result frequently reported injuries around the wrist and hand include tennis elbow, carpal tunnel syndrome and De Quervain’s synovitis.
Simple strategies to avoid injuries from tablet devices include:
- Positioning yourself and your tablet so that you minimise looking down for extended periods of time. Ideally the tablet should be as elevated as possible.
- Place your tablet on a stand to improve the viewing angle.
- Use a separate, portable keyboard when typing on the tablet for extended periods of time to limit the sustained wrist extension position.
- Take frequent rest breaks and change postures regularly. Ideally you should aim to look away from the tablet device every fifteen to twenty minutes.
- Avoid holding the tablet with your wrist fully bent back and alternate hands when typing or holding the tablet.
- If regularly using a tablet device, see a physiotherapist for a range of preventative stretching and strengthening exercises.
Jason Lee APAM
Malvern East Physiotherapy
Jason is happy to answer any questions you may have, simply send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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