Good positions when reading

How to stop back or neck pain when reading

Written by Caitlin D – Physiotherapist and avid reader.

As physiotherapists our general advice tends to be the same ….bodies love to move! Your physiotherapist will typically recommend frequent position changes regardless of the type of activity you are performing – reading is no different! It’s easy to get caught up in a story when reading, only to re-emerge from your book to find stiffness in your neck or back. Holding one type of position for a prolonged period of time can lead to discomfort (we’ve all felt that after a long time sitting at a desk, a long drive/flight, or when we stay standing all day).

As a lifelong reader (who likes to read for long periods at a time 😉), I like to change my position around to avoid feeling stiff or developing strain in my body.

My own favourite comfortable reading position would probably be lying down (not least because you will always catch me reading before I go to sleep), followed closely by sitting on the couch (with a coffee beside me). To find out more on how to stop back or neck pain when reading check out my tips below.

What to consider for a comfortable reading position?

“Neutral” postures tend to be the easiest to hold for longer periods of time without developing strain in the body. This means avoiding positions where the neck is hanging/looking down, which can develop strain in the neck and shoulders; or slumping through the back, which can likewise cause strain in the lower and upper back.

How to Read Posture

How heavy is your book?

Some physical books can be quite large – think epic fantasy, or pretty much any hardcover book. That can be a lot of load for your wrists and arms to support, especially over time. To reduce strain on wrists and arms, here are some suggestions:

· You can use additional external supports, such as book pillows/stands, or propped up against your knees.

· Consider changing formats: listening via audiobook, or using an e-reader

Other environmental factors to consider to stop neck/back pain when reading:

· Furniture comfort – e.g. you can sit in a hard chair for a lot less time that a comfortable, supportive one

· Good lighting to limit strain on the eyes

If you or anyone you know is experiencing any back or neck pain from reading we would love to help you out in clinic. You can book online for an initial assessment with one of our team at the link here or give us a call on 1300 842 850. If you enjoyed this blog you should check out our blog on How Physio Can Help Nerve Irritation or How To Relieve Neck Pain.

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