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Are Smartphones Ruining Our Necks?

Are smartphones ruining our necks?

Are smartphones ruining our necks?

It’s the age of the iZombie. The dazzling enticements and unparalleled communicative efficiency of the devices we hold in our hands has converted most first world inhabitants into slouched multi-taskers. We text as we walk, tweet over breakfast, peruse Facebook in the bathroom… The result is a population with downcast eyes and terrible posture. With so much interaction with these handheld devices, one can’t help but wonder at the adverse effects on our necks and spines.

As it turns out, the use of smartphones has become one of the leading causes of neck pain in the modern world.  A study conducted by a physiotherapist in New Zealand concluded that handheld technology is affecting our posture, afflicting us with ‘Text neck’ or ‘iHunch’  as we accommodate our smartphones. Though smartphones may hold wondrous potential for our communicative abilities and offer the whole world at the touch of a finger, it has not been so progressive for our physiology. Instead of facing the world with a straight back and a head held high, we bow our heads, hunch our shoulders forward, and monitor our thumbs with downcast eyes as they flit over a tiny screen. We are accommodating the technology in our hands by contouring ourselves around it, to the detriment of our structural integrity.
The human head weighs approximately twelve pounds. As the head tilts down the force exerted on the cervical vertebrae, supporting the head, increases measurably. A head held in a neutral position may only weigh twelve pounds, however, when tilted at a sixty-degree angle, typical of looking down at our phones, the head exerts sixty pounds of force on the neck. To add perspective, that is the rough weight of an eight-year-old child, or a five gallon can of paint. When considered that most of us spend two to four hours per day looking down at our phones, it’s little surprise we’re experiencing neck pain.
When properly postured, our ears are in line with our shoulders which are pulled back and down. In this position, there is less stress on the body, lowering levels of cortisol. When hunched over, the entire spine is stressed, especially the vertebrae that compose the cervical spine as it absorbs the added force. The surrounding muscles and ligaments are also stressed as they accommodate the extra load. This can result in persistent neck pain, headaches, and occasional numbness in the upper extremities. The constant stress can cause permanent wear and degeneration to the vertebrae.
If you are experiencing discomfort, and are searching for neck pain causes, you might try to alter how you use your smartphone. Try bringing the screen up to eye level, or ensure you are in a more supportive position if you are going to be using your phone extensively. When possible try to call rather than sending long text messages.
However, the best way to minimize smartphone related neck pain is to minimize time spent looking at that tiny screen. Put it down, look up, and engage with the world around you!
Work Referenced:
Cuddy, A. (2015, December 12). Your iPhone Is Ruining Your Posture – and Your Mood. Retrieved January 18, 2018, from
Khaleeli, H. (2014, November 24). Text neck: how smartphones are damaging our spines. Retrieved January 18, 2018, from
Nield, D. (2015, December 24). Here’s How Checking Your Phone Could Be Ruining Both Your Body And Your Mind. Retrieved January 18, 2018, from
Pinola, M. (2014, November 19). This Is What Looking Down at Your Cell Phone Does to Your Spine. Retrieved January 18, 2018, from
Why Smartphones Are Ruining Your Posture. (2015, August 03). Retrieved January 18, 2018, from


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