The super-scary thing texting is doing to your spine

Nov 20, 2014 at 1:30 a.m. ET

How many hours a day do you spend staring at your phone? If you're like most of us, it's at least a couple. After all, all of those Instagram snaps and Facebook statuses aren't going to update by themselves.

And how many hours you spend on your phone isn't that big of a deal, as long as you're not texting while driving, right?

Not exactly. A new study published in Surgical Technology International revealed that all of the looking down that we do can have a startling impact on the spine, leading to debilitating neck pain and headaches — and maybe even surgery down the line.

Here's why: According to the study, the average adult head weighs 10-12 pounds in a neutral position. However, the more the head tilts forward, the more weighted force it puts on the spine. For example, a neck pointed down 60 degrees from the neutral position can add as much as 60 pounds of pressure on the spine. Most of us spend at least two hours a day looking at our phones, so it's like we have an average-sized second grader sitting on our necks for over 120 minutes in a 24-hour period.

Yikes. And we wonder why we have constant neck and back pain?

The good news is that we don't have to give up our phones — because, honestly, very few people are going to willingly give up their iPhones to save their spines. Instead, Toby Green, D.C., an Omaha, Nebraska-based chiropractor recommends that you teach yourself to keep a neutral neck by lifting your phone up to eye level without pointing your head downward.

"Position your legs so they're at a 90-degree angle with your feet on the floor," he says. "Your arms should also rest comfortably at a 90-degree angle, so you're not putting too much strain on your upper arms and shoulders."

Then, lift the phone to that level. It feels a little strange at first, but it's better than having constant pain.

Phones aren't the only tech devices that are causing us problems. Computers can cause neck strain, too.

"Keep your computer monitor at eye level with a monitor extender," he says. Use a laptop at your desk? "Prop that up to eye level and use an external keyboard and mouse, so you're not constantly looking down."

Or, do what I do: Text in bed. Problem solved.

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