Ergonomics: Your Student Life
A student's working environment begins at the school and extends to the home. In general, a student's time is divided between attending classes and studying. Because students need to carry books and notebooks to and from class they are subjected to strains of the shoulders, arms and back. Problems associated with carrying books are most often found at the college and high school level where students may not have access to lockers for book storage. Also, unlike a business office, which offers a permanent work environment that can be modified to suit the worker's needs, students have to work under conditions in which they have little control. The use of proper ergonomics while studying will help to ward off weariness and maximize mental clarity. So, whether you are the student or the parent of one, we have gathered a few ideas and insights that will make for a more ergonomically friendly student life.
Use backpacks in the manner they are designed to be used-with a strap placed over each shoulder so that the weight is centered over the body instead of just over one shoulder or carried by hand. There also are new ergonomically designed backpacks on the market that are more efficient and comfortable than traditional designs.
The study station, library and/or at school
- Sit pulled forward as far as possible to the desk so that the back is resting against the seatback.
- Buy ergonomic products that are available to be used in a desk or study station and which are portable. Such products can help to increase comfort and decrease lower back strain.
- Use an ergonomic pen, to ward off what is commonly called "writer's cramp," which affects the fingers, wrists and forearms.
- Take frequent breaks when studying for a prolonged period of time to aid circulation and avoid back and neck problems.
Studying at home
- Reading should never be done in the prone position (on the stomach) because it will cause neck strain and hyperextension of the spine.
- Reading can be done in the supine position (on the back), if the trunk can be raised while maintaining the spine in a neutral position.
- Make time for physical activity, which will help to ward off stress and fatigue while studying.