Is Your Head Weighing You Down? By Cheryl Alker

Dr Kenneth Hansraj Image to go with head articleThe average human head weighs approximately 12 pounds. Whilst that may not come as a huge shock to you, knowing that for every inch you crane your neck forward, your 12 pound head gains a whopping 10 pounds might! The truth is that our head only weighs 12 pounds if we have perfect posture but take a look around, are your work colleagues sitting at their desks in perfect posture? What about glancing to your side as you sit in traffic is the person in the car next to you sitting in perfect alignment? Been into a classroom lately, do children sit up straight at all these days? The fact is that so many things we do routinely seem to be encouraging us to crane our neck forward, which means our heads are literally weighing us down and causing real medical issues.

The New Year always brings good intentions and many of those good intentions are aimed at our wellbeing so I know many of you have already hit the gyms or the roads and have taken up running. Whilst there are obviously huge cardiovascular and weight loss benefits to your daily run it is an activity that is already hard on your body, after all, the impact of every heel strike is equal to four times your body weight.

So if you’re already dealing with that weight and you don’t have your head in proper alignment with your spine, you could potentially be adding 42-plus extra pounds to every step you take! So not only is your bad posture causing significant extra impact through your joints it is literally slowing you down. Take note any competitive runners out there, you train hard, you eat right, and you suffer early mornings, severe climate changes and get plenty of sleep all in the quest of recording your personal best at the next race. But if you haven’t considered where you hold your head both during the course of a regular day as well as out on your training runs, you’re missing a giant piece of the puzzle.

Let’s take a look at something else we all do constantly on a daily basis – looking down at your cellphone. A new study published in Surgical Technology International suggests that looking down at a cellphone is the equivalent of placing a 60 pound weight on your neck. Trying to work that one out? Well if you’ve ever been to a football game, the zoo, a concert where your child couldn’t see then you would have probably placed them on your shoulders, it probably wouldn’t have taken long before your neck got sore and you just had to give in and put him or her down. Now imagine never taking that child off your shoulders, that 60 pound weight referred to earlier is the equivalent of an 8 year old child on your neck constantly and you are living with that strain 24/7.

Kenneth Hansraj, MD, Chief of Spine Surgery, New York Spine Surgery and Rehabilitation Medicine, found this number by assessing computer models of how gravity affects the human spine, assuming that the average weight of the human head is 12 pounds.

In the paper, he explains, “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.”

According to Flurry, a mobile measurement and advertising platform, an average American spends about two hours and 42 minutes on his or her cellphone a day. That’s 2 hours and 42 minutes of hanging four bowling balls from your neck. Over time, this stress could lead to early wear, tear, degeneration, and possibly surgeries, said Hansraj.

Consider bringing your phone to your head to read messages and maybe try not to check it every 5 minutes. Be conscious of how much you are hunching over your phone, tablet or computer and address it. Constant correction is extremely effective for changing poor postural habits. Many postural issues are caused by poor flexibility and core strength so consider adding this type of work to your weekly routine.

Being aware of your head position could save you from daily tension in the neck and shoulder area, those bi-weekly chiropractic adjustments could be a thing of the past and it could save you from surgery in the future.

Worth taking a look at!


Spinal photo courtesy of Kenneth Hansraj, MD, Chief of Spine Surgery, New York Spine Surgery and Rehabilitation Medicine

Filed Under: BackFaceFlexibilityNeck and Shoulder Pain

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