You've probably put a child up on your shoulders before. Maybe you were at a concert or a football game and your child couldn't see. After a while, your neck got sore, and you had to put him or her down. Now, imagine never taking that child off your shoulders; you'd constantly live with that strain on your neck.
Well, it's likely you're already living with that (literal) weight on your shoulders without even realizing it. A new study published in Surgical Technology International suggests that looking down at a cellphone is the equivalent of placing a 60-pound weight — or, an average-sized 8-year-old — on your neck.
Kenneth Hansraj, a New York back surgeon, found this number by assessing computer models of how gravity affects the human spine, assuming that the average weight of the human head is 12 pounds.
In the paper, he explains, "As the head tilts forward the forces seen by the neck surges to 27 pounds at 15 degrees, 40 pounds at 30 degrees, 49 pounds at 45 degrees and 60 pounds at 60 degrees."
According to Flurry, a mobile measurement and advertising platform, an average American spends about two hours and 42 minutes on his or her cellphone a day. That's 2 hours and 42 minutes of hanging four bowling balls from your neck. Over time, this stress could lead to early wear, tear, degeneration, and possibly surgeries, said Hansraj.
Maybe it's time to put down the phone for a little. Limit the amount of time you check Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Turn off your phone at certain times so you're not tempted to check your messages. Only check your email at work (it's stressing you out, anyway). And if you just can't look away from that pesky push notification, try to be conscious of how much you're hunching over.
Your back and your mind will thank you for the vacation from the screen.
Photo courtesy of Kenneth K. Hansraj, MD, Chief of Spine Surgery, New York Spine Surgery & Rehabilitation Medicine