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.
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.