The human head weighs about a 12 pounds. As the neck bends forward and down, as seen with looking down at cell phones, tablets, and computers, the weight of the head increases pressure on the neck. At a 15-degree angle of the neck, it is increases the pressure on the neck to 27 pounds; at 30 degrees it’s up to 40 pounds, at 45 degrees it’s 49 pounds, and at 60 degrees it’s 60 pounds. Some medical experts say that for every inch the head tilts forward, the pressure on the spine doubles. This forward head posture, becoming known in the medical world as “text neck,” can lead to wear and tear on the joints in the neck, particularly the 5th and 6th cervical bones, where the curve in the neck is at its fulcrum. This leads to osteophytes, a.k.a. bone spurs, disc degeneration, and leading to foraminal encroachment, meaning narrowing of the space that nerves travel out of the neck to the shoulder, arm and hand. Conventional treatment is surgery, where the neck is fused to prevent further degeneration. However this also limits motion and leads to further problems. One study says that 58% of Americans who own smartphones are at risk.
The symptoms of this improper posture can lead to headaches, heart disease, neurological issues, and depression. Poor posture has been shown to decrease lung capacity by over 30%. Symptoms might be obvious like physical pains, or could be insidious, like decreased nerve function to lungs, heart, and stomach. In another 20-30 years, this will be an epidemic, when the youth of today’s spines will no longer be able to take this prolonged extra pressure.