A spinal surgeon in Poughkeepsie, New York, is making me seriously reevaluate my smartphone habits. Using a computer model, Dr. Kenneth Hansraj estimates that the way many of us hunch over our phones is adding 60 pounds of weight to our spines, according to a new paper in the journal Surgery Technology International.
An adult head weighs 10 to 12 pounds in the neutral position. 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.
The terrible posture your smartphone encourages adds stress to the spine, which, over the years, could deteriorate the back and neck muscles to the point of needing surgery, Hansraj writes.
But there’s a psychological component here, too. Hunching over your phone creates a closed-off posture that’s kind of the opposite of power posing, the expansive body positioning (shoulders back, chest puffed out) that social psychologists say makes us feel and act more confident. So, for the sake of your spine and your self-confidence, when you’re staring at your smartphone, try to un-hunch.