WORKOUT WEDNESDAY: Health Alert: Your Cell Phone is a Pain in the Neck


By Ben Smart

Constant phone calls, late night text messages, and 24/7 connectedness – your smartphone probably requires constant attention, and keeping up with the device might be stressful at times. But new research suggests that your handheld gadget could be an actual pain in the neck by contributing to chronic neck pain.

When you look down at your cell phone – or any handheld device – you flex your neck downwards. Using advanced software models, researchers in New York calculated the net weight exerted on the cervical (upper) spine at varying angles. When the head is in perfect posture – ears aligned with shoulders and shoulder blades retracted – the weight of the head is about 10 pounds on the upper spine. At 15 degrees, the net weight of the head on the spine increases to 27 pounds. At 30 degrees, your neck experiences 40 pounds of pressure from the head. At 45 degrees – the posture at which many people text – the weight of the head is a whopping 49 pounds.

According to the study, the average American spends an average of 2-4 hours a day in this hunched position. Over the course of a year, this accumulates to 700 – 1400 hours. Extra stress on the cervical spine over time contributes to premature wear and tear as well as degeneration. In other words, craning your neck downwards can hurt your upper spine and lead to permanent posture problems. You probably won’t look good or feel good if your cervical spine is damaged.

Read the study for yourself

This week, make every day ThrowBACK Thursday and focus on maintaining proper posture with your head aligned with your spine. It’s nearly impossible to avoid the handheld devices that require us to look downwards, but we can make a conscious effort to improve our posture.

Ready to get fit from head to heel? UNC Campus Recreation has the perfect program for you! 

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