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Back to School Part 3 – Study Posture

28 January 2018 No Comment

Poor ergonomics causes a lot of musculoskeletal injuries like back pain, neck and shoulder pain, RSI, carpal tunnel syndrome, headaches and eye strain. It also causes people to fatigue quicker, makes them irritable and generally less productive. So how should your children they set up their desk, chair and computer?

  1. The chair should be adjustable so their feet touch the floor (or a footrest) and they are at a good height relative to the desk. The desk should not be too high so they are reaching, or too low so they are slumping forward. Their work should be laid out as close as possible to directly in front of them so they are not continually turning their necks to one side to read things.

2. If they are using a computer, the keyboard and mouse should be directly in front of them and easy to reach. The top of the monitor should be at about eye level; studies have shown if it’s 15-20 degrees above or below eye level causes tension in the neck muscles within 30 minutes.

3. The most important thing is not to sit too long. The research consistently shows that the longer you sit the more your postural muscles fatigue, causing slumping, back and neck pain. Every half hour try to move around, even if only for a minute or two.

4. To avoid eyestrain follow the 20/20/20 rule – every 20 minutes look at something 20 metres away for 20 seconds.

The environment people study in plays a very big role in how productive they are while they’re studying. A 2009 study on ergonomics and productivity measured the effect of Noise, Lighting, Temperature, Furniture and Spatial Arrangement (the way furniture is set up). By making modifications to these variables the researchers found that the difference in productivity from the best set-up to the worst set-up was 58%.

What that means is that in a well set-up room they will work at their optimal, but in a room where your children are distracted or uncomfortable they may only be half as effective they should be.

After sitting at a desk all day, then carrying their bag home (although hopefully after the last two articles they are carrying it properly), they’re going to be tired. A 2011 study found that a protein-based snack will help with three-thirty-itis better than sugar, so give them the right thing to eat. And an article in the New York Times in January 2012 stated that kids who do regular physical exercise perform better academically than kids who don’t, so avoid the trap of thinking long hours studying is the best way to get good grades.

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