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How Much Does Your Head Weigh?

Just the other day, Hussain and Kristen made a small but important domestic discovery. Their son, who loves to read, was developing a bad habit of sitting on his bed and looking straight down at his book. When they asked him why he doesn't just lie down for a better ergonomic position, he told them that in that position he couldn't see his book well. It turned out because of the high hat lights in his bedroom, sitting up and looking down was the only way to catch the light. So they brought him a lamp, and by allowing him to now read by bringing his book up to his eyes and keeping his neck straight, they probably saved him a lot of trouble down the road.

Hidden causes of bad posture are all around us. Do you tend to creep forward towards the computer screen because your eyesight isn't the best? Are the mirrors in your car positioned in a way that you need to hunch down to see them properly? Are you taller than your friends and constantly bending over to chat with them? We have covered this issue before but now we have actual numbers to show you how dangerous poor head and neck posture can be.

Using an advanced computer model a New York spine surgeon named Kenneth Hansraj was able to calculate the increased force you put on your spine when you bend your head down. At a neutral position your head weights 10 to 12 lbs. By tilting forward just 15 degrees, you increase the effective weight on your spine by almost double to 27lbs. At 60 degrees, which is the angle of looking almost straight down at a device in your lap, the force explodes to 60lbs.

So keep your head up! Both literally and metaphorically. After all, as Harvard researcher Amy Cuddy has demonstrated with her groundbreaking research (a good summary video of which can be found here) better posture doesn't just lead to less neck pain, but also higher testosterone levels, lower cortisol levels and a greater feeling of power and confidence.

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