Sit up straight: Why your smartphone is wreaking havoc on your back

Someone should tell this guy to straighten up – slouching over your smartphone can lead to some painful spine problems. DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images

TORONTO – If you are reading this on your smartphone – sit up straight. Looking down at your smartphone could be putting up to 60 pounds of weight on your spine – wreaking havoc on your back and posture – according to research published in the journal Surgical Technology International.

The study, done by New York-based spine surgeon Kenneth Hansraj, revealed that the more you bend your head down to look at the device in your hands, the more pressure you put on your neck.

Using a computerized model, Hansraj bent the head of the model to 15, 30, 45 and 60 degrees and measured the force on the spine. Measurements were based on the fact that an adult head weighs between 10 to 12 pounds.

“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,” read the study.

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That means if the average person spends about two to four hours a day on their smartphone, they are adding 700 to 1,400 hours a year putting added stress on their spine.

READ MORE: Sit up teens! How slouching leads to posture problems

“It is possible that a high school student may spend an extra 5,000 hours in poor posture,” Hansraj said.

“While it’s 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 avoid spending hours each day hunched over.”

This kind of stress can affect the natural curve of the spine and move its way up to the neck. Long term affect range from early wear and tear on the spine, degeneration and possibly lead to surgery, according to the study.

Sit up straight!

To have good posture, your ears should be aligned with your shoulder and your shoulder blades should be positioned down and back. Once your back is properly aligned there should be no stress on the spine.

If this article hasn’t made you think about it already, try to use your smartphone in a position where your head is straight.

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Tablet users are guilty of head tilting as well. If you spend a lot of time typing on your tablet, try using a BlueTooth keyboard instead of the touch screen and set yourself up at a desk – where the device is sitting at eye level – to work.

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