Is Your Cell Phone Killing Your Back?

This article was originally published on by Joshua M. Ammerman, MD

Millions of people do it throughout the day and are totally unaware that cell phone use can be detrimental to the back. Did you know that cell phone use can double or triple the weight of your head and can strain your neck? If you are reading this article on a cell phone or tablet, you are probably doing it right now:Tilting your head forward and down in order to look at your device.

Cell phones and tablets are changing the way we access information and entertainment. The use of these devices influences our posture and body mechanics in unhealthy ways that contribute to neck, upper back, shoulder, and arm pain. Furthermore, poor posture while sitting, standing, walking, or in a static position can lead to more than upper body pain and stiffness—poor posture affects other parts of the spine, such as the middle and low back.

How much does a human head weigh?
Typically, an adult human head weighs between 10 and 12 pounds. As the head tilts or angles forward, the cervical spine’s (neck) muscles, tendons, and ligaments support the head during movement and when static; such as holding the head in a forward tilted position. Even the neck’s intervertebral discs are involved and help absorb and distribute the forces exerted on the neck.

How much heavier is the human head when tilted forward?
To find out, Kenneth K. Hansraj, MD, Chief of Spine Surgery at New York Spine Surgery and Rehabilitation Medicine, created a computer model of the cervical spine. In an article published in Surgical Technology International, he reported that this model showed that the strain on your neck rises as the forward angle of your head increases.

  • At 15 degrees of forward tilt may equate to a head weighing 27 pounds.
  • At 30 degrees forward, the strain on the neck equals a 40 pound head.
  • The greater the angle, the greater the strain: 45 degrees forward equals 49 pounds of strain, and 60 degrees forward equals 60 pounds.

Now consider the fact that the average person is holding his or her head forward to look at a phone or read a tablet for 2 to 4 hours a day, according to Dr. Hansraj. Teenagers spend even more time each day looking down at their devices, he added. As you tilt your head, you also move your shoulders forward into a rounded position, which is another aspect of poor posture. All this excess strain creates extra wear and tear on the structures of the neck, upper spine and back, and contributes to/can lead to spinal degeneration that may require surgery.

Postural awareness a positive first step
Making good posture a habit can help prevent neck or back pain from developing, along with related posture and biomechanical problems. Good posture means that your head is upright, your ears are in line with your shoulders, and your shoulder blades are down and retracted.

“In proper alignment, spinal stress is diminished. It is the most efficient position for the spine,” Dr. Hanraj said. Good posture is not only good for the health of your spine; it is good for your over-all health and mood as well as, Dr. Hansraj noted. Other researchers have found that standing straight elevates testosterone and serotonin levels and decreases cortisol levels, hormones that affect your mood, he reported.

However, modern life still requires you to check your phone or use your tablet many times a day. How do you do that and safeguard your neck?

  • First, don’t use your cell phone or your tablet for extended computer work, according to Stanford University’s Environmental Health and Safety Department.
  • Use your desktop or laptop computer for extended work and make sure these devices are arranged ergonomically.
  • When you use a cell phone, instead of bending your head to look down at it, raise your phone.
  • When you are reading the screen, bring the phone up level or just a little below your face.


Ready To Lift?

Start your positive habit change today with Lumo Lift

Lumo Lift is a small lightweight wearable that tracks and coaches you on your posture, as well as tracks daily activity, such as steps taken, distance traveled and calories burned. Compatible with iOS/iPhone, Windows desktop and select Android devices. Free shipping, 30-day money back guarantee and 1 year limited warranty.



Subscribe to the Lumo Newsletter

Sign up for our newsletter and be the first to know about new articles, trends, products, discounts and latest Lumo news! Enter your email address below:


Customer Success Story: How one developer used Lumo Lift to practically eliminate back pain

Programer slouching

Guest post by Lumo Lift user Tim H.

I am a professional software developer and have “programmers hunch” even though I have tried different reminder software tools to sit up straighter.

In addition, I have suffered from mid back pain resulting from a house move in 2008. Massage and chiropractic relieved the pain somewhat, but only temporarily.

When I read about Lumo Lift, I was really impressed by the potential of having a constant companion to remind me to fix my posture! I bought one shortly thereafter.

In the mornings after I exercise, I put on my Lumo and align it. It helps me sit up straight in the car for my commute. When I’m in the office, I (now instinctively!) align it when I sit down or stand up. Every now and then I get a gentle buzz reminding me to fix my posture. When I’m at home, I keep it on and get little reminders to sit/stand properly.

When I go to bed at night, I put the Lumo in my gym bag for the next day (I keep a portable USB charger in my bag to keep my exercise gadgets charged without needing an outlet, so the Lumo Lift uses that if necessary).

In the two months since I’ve been using it, I feel better! I feel taller for one thing, my mid-back pain has almost entirely disappeared (who knew it was posture!!) and both my massage therapist and chiropractor noted that my shoulders are much easier to manipulate and sit in a much better position naturally. It feels great to know that my posture is getting better after so many years of knowing that I had to improve it but failing to stay on top of the problem.

The Lumo Lift is also an interesting conversation piece! My family, friends, and strangers strike conversations if they happen to notice the magnetic back. When I explain what it’s for and show them the Lumo Lift and Android app, they universally exclaim that they want one too. It seems that poor posture is a common problem!

I did develop one small issue with my Lumo Lift and had to contact support. They were very prompt, helpful, and did eventually send me a replacement with no charge or hassles. That’s pretty rare these days!

I am extremely happy with my Lumo Lift, and use it all of the time. It’s one of the best purchases I’ve made in years, and I recommend it for anybody who wants to improve their posture, suffers from back pain, or just wants to look more confident and poised!

All-New Lumo Lift App Available Now

You asked, we listened! Today we are excited to announce major updates to the Lumo Lift app, including a fresh new design, simpler settings for alignment and more. The new Lumo Lift app is available now on Google Play and the Apple App Store, so update now and be on your way to better posture.

A Facebook Chiropractor’s Guide to Good Posture and Wearables

— Contributed Post by Daniel Lord —

Physical therapists and chiropractors can’t be everywhere all the time. Outside of our patients’ visits, we can’t be there to prod them into making better decisions, like “drink water instead!” or “sit up straight!”, no matter how much we’d like to do so. Thankfully, it’s in those moments that technology is most helpful.

Lumo Lift 101


Before we send you on your way to great posture and better health, here are a few tips from our tip jar.

The Lumo Lift
Your Lumo Lift is a small, magnetic wearable device that tracks your posture and daily activity. For best results, wear your Lumo Lift on a snug fit shirt (or undershirt/bra) by clipping on the sensor using the magnetic clasp. The sensor should be worn right below your collarbone and close to your body for most accurate posture detection.

Common Questions


My Lumo Lift won’t stop buzzing!

Your Lumo Lift essentially looks for changes in the position you Aligned your Lumo Lift in. If you feel like you’re receiving too many vibrations while in good posture, try re-aligning your Lumo Lift so that it has the most updated version of what to look for.

You can Align by wearing your Lumo Lift below your collarbone, getting into your best posture, and double tapping the sensor (like double clicking a mouse). Your sensor will give you three quick vibrations to let you know that you’ve successfully aligned your Lumo Lift.

Posture Alert vs. Coaching Sessions (Windows App Only)


The Lumo Lift Windows App has two different features that will help you improve your posture: Posture Alert and Coaching Sessions. So what’s the difference?

The main difference between the two features is the time it takes to receive vibratory feedback on your posture. Posture Alert will prompt you after a set period of time, and Coaching Sessions will give you immediate feedback on your posture.

Lumo 2015 Posture Challenge: Week 4


You made it, well done! You are now in the fourth and final week of the Lumo 2015 Workplace Posture Challenge. Hopefully, by this point you are walking taller, sitting stronger, and you have learned a number of simple ways to improve your posture. Below you will find the final week’s activity schedule. To see an overview of the challenge click here or for the previous weeks’ tasks click here for week 1, here for week 2 or here for week 3. To visit the YouTube video playlist Click Here.

1 2 3 4