You may chalk up your back and neck pain to being hunched over a desk most of the day. But chances are you’re staring the real culprit right in the face: your cell phone.According to a study published in the journal Surgical Technology International, between reading work emails, checking Facebook and flipping through Instagram, people spend more than two hours each day on average looking down at their mobile devices.
It may seem like NBD in the moment, but keeping your neck craned in this downward position actually puts five times the amount of normal force on the neck, adding pressure and stress to the neck and spine that can cause long-term damage.
In a neutral position, an adult head weighs 10 to 12 pounds (so that little kid in “Jerry Maguire” was close). Your neck and spine can safely handle that amount. But as your head starts to tilt forward, the weight on your neck increases: 27 pounds at a 15-degree angle, 40 pounds at 30 degrees, 49 pounds at 45 degrees, and a terrifying 60 pounds of force at a 60-degree angle.Rather than angling your head to look down at your phone, flip things around by raising your phone so your head remains in a neutral, AKA not tilted position, and take frequent breaks from your smartphone.
“It’s important for people to take the necessary steps now to avoid any future health risks,” study author Kenneth Hansraj, M.D., chief of spine surgery at New York Spine Surgery and Rehabilitation Medicine, said in a press release.
“While it is nearly impossible to avoid the technologies that cause these issues, individuals should make an effort to look at their phones with a neutral spine and to avoid spending hours each day hunched over.” As if you needed another good reason to put down your phone!