What's your mobile device posture?

I’ve spent too many years bent poorly over a keyboard and have suffered many of the consequences.

Recently I’ve been conscious of taking on poor posture in other places as I’ve used my iPhone more and more.

A recent study by Kenneth K. Hansraj, MD, Chief of Spine Surgery at New York Spine Surgery & Rehabilitation Medicine has modelled the physical stresses that our neck posture puts on the cervical spine.

Your head and neck weigh in at about 6kg (13lb). In an upright position that weight is going straight down the spine and not requiring the muscles to do too much. Tilt your head forward and the weight starts to cause strain on the neck muscles; the further forward that you tilt the more strain you are putting on those muscles.

Imagine holding a bowling ball out in front of you on a bent arm and that the kind of pressure we are talking about.

Now imagine doing that for between two and four hours a day and hopefully you’ll start to get the picture that this isn’t a good thing to do.

Tilting your neck forward at a 30 degree angle results in pressures of over 18kg (40lbs), at 60 degrees it’s up over 27kg (60lbs). That 27Kg is over 4.5 times the weight of your head and neck or something like the weight of an 8-year-old.

The conclusion of the study says this:

The weight seen by the spine dramatically increases when flexing the head forward at varying degrees. Loss of the natural curve of the cervical spine leads to incrementally increased stresses about the cervical spine. These stresses may lead to early wear, tear, degeneration, and possibly surgeries.

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.

You can find an overview of the research here and more commentary on npr.

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