Whether you’re diving into a page-turning novel or studying for a big test, reading often involves sitting hunched over a book for long periods. While absorbing yourself in literature can be enjoyable, holding this position for too long can leave your back aching. However, with some adjustments to your posture and reading habits, you can read a book without causing neck, shoulder, and back pain.
Here are 10 tips to improve your reading ergonomics:
Sit With Proper Posture
Good posture is essential when reading. Sit upright with your shoulders back, chest lifted, and head level. Avoid slouching or craning your neck forward. Proper alignment helps prevent muscle strain. You can even sit on a small pillow to raise your seating height.
Bring Materials Close
Rather than leaning in toward your book, bring the book up to you. Position reading materials directly in front of you at eye level to avoid neck craning. Use a bookstand if needed. For tablets or laptops, prop up the screen on a platform.
Sit With Back Support
Chairs with lumbar support help maintain the spine’s natural curvature when sitting. An ergonomic back cushion also works. The support fills the space between your lower back and chair to encourage good posture.
Take Regular Breaks
Schedule eye breaks every 20-30 minutes, even if your back isn’t bothering you yet. Stand up, stretch, walk around, and give your muscles a chance to relax. This intermittent motion is healthy.
Do Seated Twists
Twisting motions extend the spine and keep the back from tightening up. During breaks, turn your upper body carefully left and right while keeping your hips still. Start with small motions and gradually increase.
Stretch Your Back
Simple back stretches promote blood flow and loosen tight muscles. Try clasping your hands behind your back and lifting your arms, yoga cat/cow poses, and pressing your back into your chair.
Adjust Your Chair Height
Chairs that are too high or low cause poor posture while reading. Adjust your chair height so that your elbows form right angles at your sides, with forearms parallel to the floor.
Trade reading while sitting for lying on your back, side, or stomach to take pressure off your spine. Use pillows under your head, between your knees, or under your stomach for comfort.
Try Standing Up
If you have a standalone desk, consider reading while standing. This fully extends the spine and activates the back muscles. Shift your weight from foot to foot.
Monitor Your Habits
Check in periodically while reading to notice any slouching or hunching. Consciously adjust as needed. Setting phone alarms can remind you to assess your posture.
Proper Lighting and Eye Strain Prevention
In addition to back-friendly reading positions, proper lighting and eye care can help you read comfortably without fatigue:
- Position lamps and other light sources to avoid glare on the page.
- Adjust screen brightness levels for digital reading.
- Take regular eye breaks to reduce strain.
- Blink frequently to moisten eyes when reading.
- Consider blue light blocking glasses to reduce exposure from devices.
- Have your eyes examined regularly to check for focusing issues.
With some awareness and tweaks to your regular routine, you can dive into a good book without tossing and turning later from an aching back. Don’t sacrifice your comfort or health just to finish a few more chapters. Your body will thank you for taking the pressure off your spine and muscles while enjoying your favorite literature.