Sex and Height Might Influence Neck Posture When Viewing Electronic Handheld Device, Researchers Find

Figure demonstrating where landmarks were placed on the head/neck so that a geometric morphometric analysis could be completed
Ashly N. Romero

Figure demonstrating where landmarks were placed on the head/neck so that a geometric morphometric analysis could be completed

Researchers in the Departments of Anthropology and Health, Human Performance, and Recreation have recently published the results of a study that looks at neck and jaw postures when using handheld electronic devices. Examination of the X-rays showed that both sex and height influence how each participant flexes their neck when viewing their handheld device.

These results suggest that females and shorter individuals bend their necks differently than males and taller individuals; this could be related to the higher incidence of neck and jaw pain experienced in females.  

As ownership of electronic handheld devices increases in the United States, new information is needed about how posture may affect the neck and jaw joint when using these devices. Some evidence shows that using these devices, such as cells phones or tablets, in certain postures may influence both the neck and jaw, eventually causing the development of pain in both. The study asked participants to hold and use electronic devices in five different postures while an X-ray was taken. These postures ranged from a neutral position of sitting straight up to a fully reclined position, as if the participant were leaning back in a chair.

The study was originally designed by assistant professors Claire Terhune (Anthropology) and Kaitlin Gallagher (Health, Human Performance, and Recreation) with support from the University of Arkansas Provost's Collaborative Grant and the Pat Walker Health Center. Graduate students Caitlin Yoakum and Ashly Romero, and undergraduates Courtney Moore and Ethan Douglas analyzed and wrote-up the study. The full study can be found in the journal Clinical Anatomy.


Caitlin Yoakum, graduate student
Department of Anthropology

Matt McGowan, science and research communications officer
University Relations


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