It’s that time of year again. Not only are writing exams stressful on you emotionally, but also sitting for hours on one is not really what our bodies were destined for, and it takes its toll on our back and neck.
As a very distracted student, I used to study at the university library. Not only was it comforting to see that thousands of other students going through the same tiredness, “a ha” moments of clarity and countless cups of coffee, but it was also quiet (which made concentrating so much easier), and I seemed to have had the ability to sit at my workstation for much longer than at home. The reason… my workstation’s ergonomics were right.
The desk should:
- Have sufficient knee room so that one can scoot close to the front of the desk;
- Have sufficient desk top area to place the computer in a position whereby the monitor is approximately an arm’s length away;
- Be at a height such that one is able to maintain the wrists in a neutral position when using a computer while the shoulders remain relaxed.
The chair should:
- Be adjustable, comfortably padded with no sharp edges on the seat;
- Maintain the spine in a vertical or slightly reclined position. If the chair does not provide adequate low back support, then a lumbar cushion, rolled up towel, or folded sweatshirt should be used. And, once good support is available, remember to use it. Do not have the tendency to sit on the front of the seat and not use the back support;
- Allow for the hips and knees to be on roughly the same level and for the feet to be placed flat on the floor. A foot rest may be needed if this is not possible;
- Preferably have armrests that comfortably support the elbows and forearms and allow one’s shoulders to relax. The armrests should not prevent one from scooting forward to the front of the desk.
Having only a few light sources results in lots of shadows. Whenever possible, always have at least 3 light sources from various angles.
Now, having the correct desk space cannot solve all posture problems. Sometimes, while reading or writing we do force our bodies into awkward positions. At the clinic we find that students receive a great amount of relief when coming in for an adjustment to re align their spines.
Energy is stored in the muscles so cramping up will make you feel tired, causing aching muscles or even worse burning at the base of your neck and shoulders.