Do mobile phones damage your back? This is what your smartphone is doing to your spine

Emma Haslett
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Using your smartphone while walking is generally a bad idea, as one unfortunate tourist discovered when she fell off a pier while using Facebook last year.

But mishaps aside, our phone use is doing serious damage to our spines, a new study has found. In fact, according to the research, published in the journal Surgical Technology International, inclining our heads as much as 60 degrees is equivalent of putting 60lb, or 4.3 stone, of weight on our spines. That's the equivalent of having an eight-year-old strapped to your back.

According to the research, by spinal surgeon Dr Kenneth Hansraj, weight experienced by the spine "dramatically increases" as the head flexes forward at varying degrees. An adult head weights 10lb-12lb, which increases as it tilts forward, to 27lb at 15 degrees, 40lb at 30 degrees, 49lb at 45 degrees and 60lb at 60 degrees. Here's what that looks like:

(Source: Surgical Technology International)

Just how much damage are we doing?

People spend an average of two to four hours a day with their heads tilted over reading and texting on their smart phones and devices. Cumulatively this is 700 to 1,400 hours a year of excess stresses seen about the cervical spine. It is possible that a high school student may spend an extra 5,000 hours in poor posture.

Ouch. The solution, of course, is to stop wandering around staring at your phone. According to the research, good posture is defined as "ears aligned with the shoulders and 'angel wings', or the shoulder blades, retracted". Or, as City A.M.'s headmistress used to say: "chin up, shoulders back, and don't forget to smile".

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