Texting is Killing Your Back

How often do you walk around looking at your phone with your head down? Chances are it’s pretty often and according to a new study, it’s killing our backs and necks. New York spine surgeon Kenneth Hansraj recently published a study in Surgical Technology International’s 25th edition that looks at how much pressure is put on the head and neck as we bend forward. Every time we go to look at our phone we are putting more and more pressure on our neck and it could lead to chronic back and neck pain in the future. Hansraj created a model showing how much pressure is put on our heads and necks the further we lean forward. When we bend 60 degrees forward we are putting 60 pounds of pressure on our neck. If we just consciously keep our heads up even slightly we could greatly reduce the amount of pressure on our necks.

texting spine

In an interview with Huffington Post, Hansraj said that “it’s a very sophisticated assessment of the stresses when the head is in various positions.” He also said that different things could happen to your neck if you’re bending it forward and to the side. Adult human heads are between 10-12 pounds and as we start bending our heads forward, they get heavier and heavier as pressure increases. When we bend our heads just 30 degrees forward, the weight of our heads increases to 40 pounds, four times as much as it really weighs. That seemed crazy to me and it’s now wonder so many people complain about back and neck pain, myself included. In the Huffington Post interview, Hansraj also pointed out that sitting at a desk all day has the same effects on our necks. He lists some ways to alleviate pain that include doing stretches, taking frequent short walks, and positioning your computer so you are looking straight at it rather than looking down at an angle.

Now this doesn’t mean we have to stop using our smart phones but it does mean that we should be more aware of how we are positioning our heads when looking at them and we should be aware of how we are sitting at desks if we want to limit the amount of stress and pain we put on our heads and necks. Even Hansraj says we shouldn’t stop using our phones but people should instead “pay attention to where their head is in space. You want to be careful that your head is straight up when you’re using a smart device.”

So stop looking at your phone so much and start paying attention to the world around you. Look up and you might just see something amazing.

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2 Responses to Texting is Killing Your Back

  1. alaynawillia says:

    This is a very shocking way for us to see how our current behaviors with technology is changing us. We could essentially evolve into hook necked people, hunched over our phones and computers, I wonder if our future children will be born with no peripheral vision, super fast thumbs, and hunch backs.

  2. sledani says:

    I think this is a really interesting study, one that is incredibly relevant to us because we are constantly on our phones. I find it particularly interesting that Hansraj pointed out these same negative effects from sitting at a desk, because over the summer, I had a desk job and I felt back pain. By the end of the summer I felt like an elderly woman with spine problems, and it’s scary that even standing, these same effects can be achieved by keeping my head down looking at my phone. (i decided then and there that I never want a regular desk job). I think this study should be widely circulated by everyone who reads it because people may not know how terribly they could be setting their bodies up for the future.
    I think it’s also an important note that you brought up that maybe in addition to being more conscious of the way we hold our heads, we should maybe also look less at our phones. There is a whole world in front of us that we sometimes forget to look at, and this is a good way to get us to rethink the way we look at it- either hunched, or held high.

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