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Smartphone and TabletSmartphone and Tablet

Portable device pains can become an issue for those of us who have accepted the awesome technology of cellphones, tablets, and laptops as part and parcel of our everyday lives.

As we become more and more dependent on these devices, we may begin to experience a phenomenon we will call portable device pains.

The technology is relatively new and admittedly addictive. We may not realize all that hunching (and other bad postures) to look at these devices for extended periods of time can put serious strain not just on our necks and shoulders, but also on our upper and lower backs, and arms and hands as well.

What can we do about portable device pains? We must first recognize that damage can occur and then devise ways to help minimize or relieve the damage.

Below are certain types of bad posture, the type of pain they can cause when using smartphones, tablets, and laptops, and what to do about it:


Woman With Smartphone With Poor PostureWoman With Smartphone With Poor Posture
Poor Posture Using Portable DevicePoor Posture Using Portable Device
Poor Posture Using Portable DevicePoor Posture Using Portable Device

So many of us look down at smartphones throughout the day, some for hours -- and this head position is damaging our spines. The human head weighs about 12 pounds and when the neck bends forward and down, it adds weight to the cervical spine. When our head is bent at a 60-degree angle to look down, that added weight can equal as much as 60 pounds (about 4 bowling balls)!

The result? Neck pain or Text neck. The catchy name refers to a variety of ailments arising from this poor posture, including neck pain, shoulder pain, headaches, upper back pain, and more. Keeping your head down this way can also speed up the degeneration of your spine.

How To Relieve 'Text Neck' Pain:

  • Bring your phone up high enough so you can look down at your screen with just your eyes.
  • Take frequent breaks.

There are also a number of stretches and strengthening exercises designed to keep your head in alignment and strengthen the muscles that hold it up and in the proper position. Here are some:

  • Turn your head to the left and to the right.
  • Chin tucks.
  • Yoga poses. For ex., downward-facing dog or cat-cow, where you get down on all fours alternating between straightening and rounding the spine.


Bending Over to Use Portable DeviceBending Over to Use Portable Device

Pain from this bad posture position can happen if you prefer to sit looking down at your laptop or tablet on your lap. This rounds your back and can cause the disks in your lower back to bulge backward which could lead to problems such as a herniated disk.

How to Relieve Rounded Back Pain:

You can place a pillow on your lap in a pinch. But it would be best to move your laptop or tablet to a table where you can find a comfortable position for your spine.

Proper Posture for Using Portable DeviceProper Posture for Using Portable Device


Using Laptop in BedUsing Laptop in Bed

When you sit on a bed with bent knees and a portable device on your thighs or on the bed with your head thrust forward to look at the screen, you are causing damage to your head and neck by flexing them too much.

How to Relieve Taking Your Portable Device to Bed Pain:

Lie on your side while holding the device steady with one hand. Remember to switch sides and hands every few minutes, if possible.


If you lie on your stomach with your portable device on the floor with your head and neck hanging off the side, then you are using your posterior neck muscles to keep your head up and gravity will make you bend your neck more. When your neck tries to fight this, muscle or ligament strain can result. This kind of position can cause back pain as well.

How to Relieve Lying On A Sofa With Portable Device On the Floor Pain:

Lie on your back and hold your device in both hands above your head. Since this would be an uncomfortable position after a few minutes, it will force you to stop regularly, giving your muscles a break.


Person Using Device On ElbowPerson Using Device On Elbow

This posture can put direct pressure on the ulnar nerve in your arm, which goes from your neck down into your hand. It can cause numbness and tingling in your ring and little fingers due to pressure on the nerve. Eventually, you might develop a weaker grip and this could even eventually lead to carpel tunnel syndrome.

How To Relieve Resting On Elbows Pain:

Put the phone in both hands and roll to your side. This will take the pressure off your elbows and possibly relieve your back strain.


Child with TabletChild with Tablet

It is important to become aware of the portable device pains that can do serious damage to your body from improper posture while using cellphones, tablets, and laptops. Work toward changing your posture to another that will be able to alleviate any current pain and make it less possible that you will incur serious damage in the future.

This is especially important for the growing muscles and joints of our children. It is still not known what the eventual effect of the long-term use of these technological advances will be on the minds, let alone the bodies of our children. It is important for us to teach them good posture when using these devices and set a good example by correcting our postures as well.

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