Is Studying Good For Your Body?
Studying may stress out the mind – but what about the body? Did you ever stop to think about your postural environment and the affects it has on the structure and function of your body?
Common complaints such as back and neck pain, eye strain, headache pain or general stress and tension can be directly or indirectly affected by your studying environment. The way we sit in our chair, the length of time we stare at our computer or the relentless hours we work, all affect our body in different ways.
The aches and pains could be avoided with a few conscious, body care decisions. The Australian Osteopathic Association has put together some healthy habit tips for better body care whilst studying.
HEALTHY HABITS TO DESTRESS YOUR BODY WHILE YOU’RE AT YOUR DESK
Correct posture will relieve pressure on the lower back, improve your breathing and increase the blood circulation through the back, lower back and legs.
Your head should be in an upright position when viewing documents on your computer screen
Breathe with your diaphragm when sitting or standing
Keep your shoulders relaxed and your elbows close to your sides when working
Don’t slouch in your chair or slump your shoulders
A comfortable supportive chair will take pressure away from the lower back and make it easier to sit infront of the computer or at your desk.
Ensure your back is adequately supported
Your hips should be as far back in the chair as possible so that your back is touching your chair back
Adjust the height of your chair so your feet are positioned flat on the floor – don’t slouch over your work
Consider using an alternative to a chair to sit on e.g. a fit ball. Using a fit ball can improve the strength of your lower back and abs – it can also teach you to sit tall
3. Your Computer
Continual tasks in front on the computer can cause eye strain, headaches, neck pain and put pressure on the shoulders.
The keyboard height and slope should be both easy to adjust
The mouse should be within close reach and at the same level as the keyboard
You should hold the mouse lightly with all fingers and click gently. Move the mouse with your entire arm instead of just your wrist
Your shoulders should be relaxed when keying or using the mouse
Your source documents should be positioned on a stand placed between the monitor and keyboard
4. Take regular breaks
Take a break and get the blood flowing through the body
Get up from your desk and stretch out your back, neck, shoulders and legs
Get up from your desk and walk around the office, e.g. take a 15 minute break, get a glass of water or go to the toilet
Get out of the house or Library, try going for a walk or for a swim.
The Neck Stretch
Here are two quick, yet effective stretches to do for your neck whilst sitting at your desk:
1. Whilst sitting in your chair – use your right arm to firmly hold onto the right side of your chair. With your left hand, place it on top of your head and slowly stretch your neck to the left. Hold the stretch whilst you breath in and out three to four times Then swap sides.
2. Interlock your fingers, and placed them behind your head. Keep your arms relatively relaxed, whilst supporting your head with your hands and slowly tilt your head forward hold the stretch whilst you breathe in and out three to four times.
Six Stretches for a Stronger and less Stressed Back by an Osteopath
These stretches and exercises are designed to relieve tension and strengthen your back. For best results, do these exercises when you are warm – eg after a shower, because that is when your muscles are most responsive.
1. Lie flat on your back and using your hands bring one knee up to your chest. Hold your knee in a position where you feel comfortable. Hold position whilst you breathe in out and three times and then change legs.
2. Lie on your back with your arms out to the side, bend your knees and gently rock them from side to side in the mid range. (ie from 90 degrees to 45 degrees – not to the floor). Do three sets of three to five.
3. Lie on your back and with your arms out, bend your knees and gently drop them over to one side of your body. Hold position whilst you breathe in and out three times – and then change legs.
4. Lie flat on your back, and stretch out your entire body. Reach as far as you can with your toes and stretch up as far as you can with your hands. Hold position whilst you breathe in and out three times.
5. Stand tall, place your hands behind your knees and stretch up through your shoulders and into the middle of the back. Hold this position whilst you breathe in and out three times.
6. Lie flat on your back, put your hands underneath your bottom and bend your knees. Keep your knees together and slowly lift them off the ground gently bringing your knees into your chest. Keep your lower abdominals tight. Do three sets of three to five.
If at any time, these exercises cause you discomfort or aggravate symptoms consult your local osteopath.
What is Osteopathy?
Put simply, osteopathy is a “tune and balance” for the body.
Holistic in approach, osteopathy is a form of drug free, manual medicine which focuses on total body health by treating and strengthening the musculoskeletal framework, and through this, balancing the body and its nervous, circulatory and lymphatic systems.