One human head weighs about a dozen pounds. However, when the neck bends down, the weight increases. For example, at a 15-defree angle, the weight becomes 27 pounds. At 30 degrees, it becomes 40 pounds, and at 60 degrees it’s 60 pounds. That’s a lot for your neck to hold.
So you can probably imagine that having a smartphone bends your neck at an angle most of the time. According to a research published by Kenneth Hansraj in the National Library of Medicine, the bad posture called “text neck” can lead to an early wear-and-tear of the spine, that may even require surgery.
(Photo courtesy of Kenneth K. Hansraj, MD)
“It is an epidemic or, at least, it’s very common,” Hansraj, chief of spine surgery at New York Spine Surgery and Rehabilitation Medicine, told The Washington Post. “Just look around you, everyone has their heads down.”
If you can’t wrap your head around 60 pounds and how much it actually is, imagine an 8-year old. Now imagine that 8-year-old around your neck.
“Smartphone users spend an average of two to four hours per day hunched over, reading e-mails, sending texts or checking social media sites. That’s 700 to 1,400 hours per year people are putting stress on their spines, according to the research. And high-schoolers might be the worst. They could conceivably spend an additional 5,000 hours in this position,” Hansraj said.
“The problem is really profound in young people,” he said. “With this excessive stress in the neck, we might start seeing young people needing spine care. I would really like to see parents showing more guidance.”
Tom DiAngelis, president of the American Physical Therapy Association‘s Private Practice Section, told CNN last year the effect is similar to bending a finger all the way back and holding it there for about an hour.
“As you stretch the tissue for a long period of time, it gets sore, it gets inflamed,” he said. It can also cause muscle strain, pinched nerves, herniated disks and, over time, it can even remove the neck’s natural curve.