Carrying a backpack can affect your posture. It is important that students pick the right backpack for their individual fit. Choose a backpack that is comfortable and practical. Here are a few tips on carrying your backpack.
- When wearing your backpack make sure that the top of the bag is just below your shoulders and the bottom should be slightly above your waist. If this is not the case for your backpack then adjust it by tightening or loosening the straps. If your backpack is not adjusted properly then this can lead to long term back and shoulder problems.
- Be sure to use both straps, not one! If you only use one strap then this will place an uneven amount of pressure on one shoulder and cause your body alignment to change. Therefore, it is important to distribute the weight evenly. A hip strap is also useful as it redistributes the weight off the upper body.
- Don’t pack a lot of heavy items into your backpack as this just puts pressure on your shoulders and can cause you to have a hunch. If you have to carry textbooks to and from school then take regular breaks while walking to relieve some of the pressure.
- Choose backpack with several pockets, instead of one large one so that you can place items in different sections and thus distribute the weight more evenly.
- The material of your backpack is also important. It is good to choose lightweight material as it is more comfortable and won’t weigh more when there’s nothing inside the bag.
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In many classrooms, students are sitting at wooden desks with chairs not suitable for their height. From a young age, children and teenagers develop postural habits, which may not be correct. The Heart Foundation conducted a study, which found that students spend around 7-9 hours a day sitting and up to five of those hours are spent sitting in the classroom or doing homework. Thus, student ergonomics needs to be more of a priority. Furthermore, textbooks are being replaced by iPads, tablets and laptops, which mean that screen time is higher and students are hunching over for longer.
Poor posture among students has been linked to decreased lung capacity, pain, headaches, depression and digestive issues. Other symptoms, which can result from improper furniture, include: pain in the neck, back and shoulders, increased fatigue, muscle imbalances and low levels of concentration, which can result in excessive fidgeting. Early intervention is pivotal and we encourage all students to be more conscious of their posture and the ergonomics of their workspace. In this electronic age, students are spending too much time doing sedentary activities but movement is essential to keep the blood flowing and help reduce poor posture.
In classrooms, height adjustable chairs and desks should be implemented as well as tilting desktops, so that students don’t have to lean or hunch over. There are many benefits associated with implementing correct ergonomics and thus an emphasis should be placed on changing student ergonomics.
Choosing the right furniture is necessary. Take a look our previous post, which looks at how to adjust your chair and body so that you are sitting upright. Next week we will be looking at backpack ergonomics and will provide tips on how to choose and carry a backpack.
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October is National Ergonomics Month!
Ergonomics involves the “process of designing or arranging workplaces, products and systems so that they fit the people who use them”.
Poor posture is caused by our everyday activities such as sitting at our desks, looking at our screens, driving, sleeping and even walking. Ergonomics is a big factor contributing poor posture and below are some tips on how to improve your workstation to improve your posture.
We spend a lot of time sitting, and thus finding the right chair is essential. Choose a chair with lumbar support so that your spine is upright and your back is comfortable. It is also important to adjust your chair to fit your height. If your chair is too high and you can’t rest your feet flat on the floor then use a footrest or a small stool or even a stack of books. Your knees should be around the same level as our hips and your wrists should be at elbow level when typing. Your keyboard should be within reach so that your arms are close to your body. When using a computer, make sure the screen is directly in front of you, so that you do not need to lean forwards or backwards or tilt your head. If you need to use the phone, try not to hold your phone between your head and neck but rather use a headset or put your phone on speaker.
Take regular breaks from sitting. Stand up and stretch or go for a walk. Moving around will keep the blood circulating and release pressure on your back and muscles.
Some signs of ergonomic injuries include: tingling or numbness in the hands, loss of coordination, discomfort or tightness in the muscles and stiffness in joints. If you are experiencing any of these then be sure to change the your workstation.
Schools and universities should adapt to the student’s needs and improve student ergonomics.