When you’re sitting for hours at a time in lectures on a hard and uncomfortable chair, or you’re hunched over your desk putting in some study time, you know what back and neck pain feel like.
One article on ergonomics says, “If you’re a college student and you’re sitting in your desk chair, in lectures or the library for hours at a time, you’re keeping a mostly static posture. That makes more stress on your back, arms, legs and shoulders. It can put pressure on the discs of your spine and your back muscles as well.”
We know that these sedentary days (and weeks) can affect us, leaving us with a slouched posture or persistent neck pain, but what can we do about it?
Ergonomics for Students
Setting up your study stations and being aware of how you sit during lectures is a skill which you will benefit from throughout your life. Here’s where to start:
To maintain an upright posture while working on your laptop, set it up so that the top of your screen is at eye-level. This allows you to keep your chin up and your back straight while you work. Your wrists should remain straight when you type so ideally, your keyboard will be directly in front of you and easily reachable with bent arms.
You can’t do much about the chairs in your lecture rooms, but you can ensure that the chair you use at home or in your student accommodation is adjustable so that your feet are flat on the ground. Check that it has good lumbar support which serves to you into an upright position.
In fact, if you can, swap between using a chair and an exercise ball. These balls allow you to move around a little more and help to strengthen your core muscles, which at the same time they discourage slouching.
If you have a lot of reading to do, then take your book to bed. Sitting propped upright with your legs supported beneath your knees, and your book on your thighs is a comfortable and ergonomically sound way of reading.
A good investment would be to buy a sturdy book holder for use while you’re reading at a desk. Again, this serves to keep your head up and your back straight, instead of hunching over a book on the table.
When you’re not studying or reading, try to stay off your phone or laptop. Yes, easier said than done, but the time spent staring at a screen when you don’t absolutely have to can be better spent elsewhere.
Being aware of how we spend our days will go a long way toward keeping our posture in check and ensure that all our study spaces are ergonomically friendly.