Texting (and using a tablet) can place up to 60 lbs of stress on your neck

Excessive use of a smartphone (and similarly a tablet, magazine, and book) could produce considerable stress on the cervical spine and therefore cause neck pain.

Findings from multiple studies have concluded that “heavy smartphone users are commonly found to have forward head syndrome, and slouched posture.” The distribution of musculoskeletal symptoms included headaches, neck pain, upper and mid-back pain, shoulder pain, arm pain [including tingling & numbness], and jaw pain. In each of the studies pain “was most common in the neck, followed by the upper back and then the shoulders.”


The average human head weighs 10-11 lbs. According to studies by Kenneth Hansraj, a New York back surgeon, “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. These stresses may lead to early wear, tear, degeneration, and possibly surgeries.”

To put this into better perspective, how much is…

  • 25 pounds = an average 2 year old
  • 33 pounds = a cinder block
  • 36 pounds = a mid-size microwave
  • 40 pounds = a 5-gallon bottle of water
  • 50 pounds = a small bale of hay
  • 55 pounds = a 5000 BTU air conditioner

What can I do to prevent “text neck,” “tech neck,” and “pain-in-the-neck…”

  1. Limit activities that may cause neck problems such as smartphone & tablet use, reading, and sitting & standing with poor posture
  2. When possible, bring your tablet, books, and smartphones up to eye level during use
  3. Integrate stretching of your neck muscles regularly (see sdccdergo.org resources for Computer and Desk Stretches)
  4. Sit with correct posture. Take regular breaks from prolonged sitting.

To learn more:

A Comparison of Cervical Flexion, Pain, and Clinical Depression in Frequency of Smartphone Use: http://www.sersc.org/journals/IJBSBT/vol7_no3/19.pdf

What Texting Does to the Spine http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/11/what-texting-does-to-the-spine/382890/