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The Literal Pain in Your Neck

The human head weighs about 12 pounds … unless you add a Smartphone to that equation. The more the neck bends downward, the more weight is added to the cervical spine: at a 15-degree angle, the head weighs 27 pounds; at 30 degrees, 40 pounds; at 45 degrees, 49 pounds; at 60 degrees, 60 pounds (the equivalent to carrying an 8-year-old around your neck). The result: “text-neck.”

On average, Smartphone users (58 percent of American adults) look down at their phones two to four hours a day—about 700 to 1,400 hours a year of added spinal stress. High schoolers, on the other hand, could spend up to an additional 5,000 hours hunched over in this position.

Physical therapists say that as the tissue stretches for long periods of time, it gets sore and inflamed, also causing muscle strain, pinched nerves, herniated disks and, over time, can potentially remove the neck’s natural curve. Poor posture can also contribute to headaches and neurological issues, depression and heart disease, and can reduce the lung capacity by as much as 30 percent.

One expert gave TODAY some tips to avoid this pain, such as using your eyes to look down at your phone instead of bending your neck. Be sure to move your head from left to right several times, as well, or try standing in a doorway with both arms extended while pushing your chest forward to strengthen the muscles activated during good posture.

Image by Kamyar Adl, licensed under Creative Commons.