Humans were designed to stand upright. And yet in this modern world, too many of us spend our days with our heads slumped over for a simple reason: we’re staring at the tiny screen of a smartphone.
People spend an average of 2 to 4 hours each day with their neck bent at this unnatural angle while sending emails or texts, or reading social media. The success of social media has led to an unfortunate epidemic of poor posture – especially in the neck.
The average adult head weighs 10 to 12 pounds when it’s in the upright or neutral position. The weight is distributed evenly through the front part of each bone and the discs of the spine which are designed to do the task. However, because of that little thing called physics ‘gravitational pull’ the cranium (Head) becomes heavier the more you bend your neck.
Several times heavier, according to research from Dr. Kenneth Hansraj, chief of spine surgery at New York Spine Surgery and Rehabilitation Medicine. His study found that bending your head at a 60 degree angle to get a better look at your selfie is putting 60 pounds’ worth of pressure on your cervical spine, the portion of the spine above the shoulders. That’s more than the weight of the average 7 year old.
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 the need for chiropractic or surgical intervention.
But it’s not just the big slump that creates alarming stress on the cervical spine. Tilting your head a mere 15 degrees puts 27 pounds of pressure on your spine; a 30 degree neck tilt could equal 40 pounds of pressure; a 45 degree tilt adds the force of 49 pounds.
It’s no secret that correct posture is better for your back. According to the research good posture is defined as ears aligned with the shoulders and the ‘angel wings,’ or the shoulder blades, retracted.
In correct alignment, spinal stress is diminished; It is the most efficient position for the spine.