Tablets increase neck strain 3-5 times, says ergonomics study

VasavadaPULLMAN, Wash. – Strain on neck muscles increases 3-5 times when using tablet computers compared to sitting with the head in a neutral position, according to recent research by Anita Vasavada at Washington State University. The lowest demand on the neck was when the tablet was in a high propped position.

The paper was published in February in the journal Ergonomics.

“Our findings are important for developing ergonomics guidelines for tablet computer use,” wrote the authors, who are in WSU’s Voiland School of Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering. Last year in the U.S., 42 percent of people under age 18 owned a tablet. More than half of people aged 35-49 used tablets regularly.

Vasavada,-David Lin-and-Steven Monda-500
Anita Vasavada, left, with WSU colleagues David Lin and Steven Monda.

Vasavada and colleagues conducted a study of 33 university students and staff who regularly used tablets. Users were tested in a variety of positions and while reading and typing for 2-5 minutes.

The researchers evaluated the head-neck biomechanics during tablet use, implications for neck musculature and future ergonomics recommendations.

They recommend more research to include variables such as extent and frequency of use and posture, all of which could be significant in inducing neck pain after tablet use.

Read an earlier article about the research at


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