Women suffer more neck pain than men because of the way they look at their SMARTPHONES: Females ‘stick out their jaw more’ because they have shorter necks, study finds
- Men use their neck vertebrae to move their head when looking at screens
- Women, and shorter people, move their jaw more than men do, study found
- Researchers believe this likely has a considerable impact on their pain
Women may be at greater risk of neck pain because of the way they use smartphones and tablets.
Electronic devices cause women to point down their face with their chin almost on their chest, a study suggests.
Men, who tend to have longer necks because they are taller, bend them less awkwardly when they are checking emails or texting on their phone.
The findings, taken from X-rays of people using electronic tablets, could help to explain why women suffer more from neck and jaw pain than men.
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Pictured, the landmark and semi-landmark placement to track neck bending in the study. A total of 35 semi-permanent landmarks were placed along the jaw and neck (blue dots) and the yellow line indicates the angle of the jaw which was assessed in the study
Researchers found men tend to bend their neck where their head meets their spine, while women look down towards their chest and stick their head out further.
Dr Claire Terhune, senior author of the study from the department of anthropology at the University of Arkansas, said: ‘Our advice to people in general would probably be to try to avoid spending hours looking down at a tablet or a mobile phone.
‘But the advice to women would be to be aware of their posture and try to put themselves in a better position if they are using a device.
‘Following this research, we want to investigate if the way that they bend their neck over electronic devices is linked to neck and jaw pain.’
The British Chiropractic Association says more than one in five people in Britain have suffered back or neck pain after using a smartphone.
To see how electronic devices affect posture, the US researchers X-rayed 10 women and 12 men while they used a tablet in five different positions.
Men and women showed no difference in neck movements when staring straight ahead at the centre of a tablet in their hand.
But the X-rays, which researchers marked with the six vertebrae in the neck and another 46 stress points in the face and jaw, did show a difference when people sat upright, bent fully forward or reclined at 15 or 30 degrees.
Women’s tendency to look down with their chin almost on their chest left their jaw sticking out, the study published in the journal Clinical Anatomy found.
That could cause pain, especially for women using a device while snacking or talking to people, which puts further strain on the jaw while it is already in an uncomfortable position.
The researchers write: ‘Our results suggest that postures adopted with tablet use vary in relation to height and/or sex. ‘When using tablets or other handheld devices, morphological differences between males and females require different positioning of the jaw and neck’
It is not clear whether women move their necks differently as a general rule, or whether it is more to do with their height.
The females in the study were 15 centimetres (six inches) shorter than the men on average, so had smaller necks, causing them to bend awkwardly.
A study of taller women and shorter men might have found a different result.
Marc Sanders, a member of the British Chiropractic Association, said: ‘There is limited research to determine whether gender or height has an impact on how people view handheld devices. However, recent studies have shown no link between neck pain and ‘text neck’ (forward head posture) in adolescents..’
He added: ‘While there is no perfect way to sit or use your phone, if you are one of the 22 per cent of Brits who have experienced back or neck pain after using a smartphone then you may want to relax your neck muscles by leaning your head against your seat’s headrest.
‘Vary the position you are sitting in – your best posture is your next posture. Make sure to take the time to break position on a regular basis and stretch your arms, shrug your shoulders and move your fingers around as this helps to keep the muscles more relaxed.’
HOW SEVERE IS SMARTPHONE ADDICTION?
With the average age for a child to get their first phone now just 10, young people are becoming more and more reliant on their smartphones.
Worrying research from Korea University suggests that this dependence on the technology could even be affecting some teens’ brains.
The findings reveals that teenagers who are addicted to their smartphones are more likely to suffer from mental disorders, including depression and anxiety.
Other studies have shown people are so dependent on their smartphone that they happily break social etiquette to use them.
Researchers from mobile connectivity firm iPass surveyed more than 1,700 people in the US and Europe about their connectivity habits, preferences and expectations.
The survey revealed some of the most inappropriate situations in which people have felt the need to check their phone – during sex (seven per cent), on the toilet (72 per cent) and even during a funeral (11 per cent).
Nearly two thirds of people said they felt anxious when not connected to the Wi-Fi, with many saying they’d give up a range of items and activities in exchange for a connection.
Sixty-one per cent of respondents said that Wi-Fi was impossible to give up – more than for sex (58 per cent), junk food (42 per cent), smoking (41 per cent), alcohol (33 per cent), or drugs (31 per cent).
A quarter of respondents even went so far as to say that they’d choose Wi-Fi over a bath or shower, and 19 per cent said they’d choose Wi-Fi over human contact.
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