A student’s guide on how to prevent body aches while studying

Studying for a long period of time can cause soreness in your whole body and make you feel tired and demotivated. However, there are some things you can do to relieve the strain and prevent pains. MSc Construction Management student Elaine Ferrao gives her top tips to prevent body aches while studying at RGU.

These tips have been curated from Elaine’s personal experience and research, they do not constitute official medical advice. If you need information specific to your situation, please consult with your GP.

Feeling neck stiffness and tired due to long hours of study work? This may be caused by maintaining the wrong posture while studying. If you spend a long time working on your laptop, phone or tablet, you may want to know the best way to look after your body while doing it.

Set up your working environment and seating position appropriately

It’s important to set up your desk, monitor and chair in a way that won’t be a strain on your body. For example, if your monitor is too low, your head will be tilted, which will have a negative effect on your spine. Here is a checklist to help set up your working environment:

  • Your screen should be just below your horizontal optical axis so that your head isn’t tilted too much up or down. It should also be a minimum of an arm’s length away from you.
  • Your keyboard and mouse should be in line with your elbows. You can also use a hand rest to prevent wrist pain.
  • Place your feet firmly on the floor. If you can’t reach it, use a foot stool.
  • Sit upright and try to keep your knees and elbows at a 90-degree angle.

It’s also advisable to work on a desktop in case of long hours of studying rather than a laptop. You can use the computers on campus or in the Library. The RGU Library has its monitors set according to the desired ergonomics angle with the help of the computer arm to ensure the best possible posture.

Reduce the weight of your bag

Using a desktop on campus also saves you from the hassle of carrying your laptop, and in turn burden your spine. Moreover, a report by an American news article highlights that carrying backpacks with excessive weight can strain the muscles, ligaments, and joints on the hips and back.

My personal preference is to use the computers on campus because of the strain that is caused on my hips on the days I’ve had to carry my laptop for work purposes! I can definitely see a difference when I carry a lighter bag.

Stretch at intervals

No matter what equipment you use to study, it is equally necessary to be able to take short-breaks and perform minimal stretches at intervals. You can find a variety of useful exercises to follow online, including Healthline’s extensive list of “Stretches to Do at Work Every Day” which you can incorporate in your study routine. These include stretching out your arms, torso, legs and knees, and your head and shoulders all while sitting down.

Even though you can stretch while staying at your desk, remember to take actual breaks by standing up and moving around. Going on a walk is a good way to stay fit and make sure your body isn’t too strained from sitting down all day.

To summarize, try to use a computer for long hours of studying. If it is not ideal in your situation, you may want to invest in a separate keyboard accessory and a mouse so that you are able to elevate your laptop at the desired level that is right as per the ergonomic standards. And don’t forget to also keep yourself hydrated and do stretches at intervals.

These small initiatives can make a valuable difference to your health, so just try out different things and figure out what’s best for you and your body!

Elaine Ferrao

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