Our cell phones and tablets have transformed the way we hold our bodies—and not for the better. Looking down at your device is like having a 60-pound weight on your neck, according to a spine surgeon.

That’s like having an eight-year old sitting on your head while you’re standing trying to read your text messages, The Atlantic points out.


Dr. Kenneth K. Hansraj, chief of spinal surgery at New York Spine Surgery & Rehabilitation Medicine, developed the virtual model above. It turns out that moving your head forward and having that amount of force on your neck and spine isn’t good for your health—and the average person spends two to four hours a day in this position.

Dr. Hansraj’s paper, published in Surgical Technology International (which is worthy of skepticism due to an impact factor of 0, but which does seem to have a competent editorial staff) , notes that good posture is related to having your ears aligned with the shoulders and your shoulder blades back. This lowers body stress and decreases cortisol. Poor posture, on the other hand, stresses the spine and can lead to early wear and tear, and maybe lead to surgery.

A few solutions: hold your phone straight in front of you instead of bending your head down, try to place your tablet at a 30 degree angle when typing or tapping (the angle protects your wrists) or at a right angle if just reading, and stretch your neck back to correct a forward neck posture.