When studying, your mind is focused on many different things: exams, projects, deadlines, scheduling, remembering what you need to learn, and actually learning it. It’s easy to allow studying to take control of your time and focus, and although it must be done, this can cause us to forget about our wellbeing. Diet and sleep are the most famously hard-hit areas during study time, but one area that is overlooked all too often is the strain we put on our necks. Hours and hours hunched over books and screens will inevitably take its toll on our necks, and while this may not be your top priority, it affects your ability to study and absorb the information. Here, we’re going to look at several ways you can prevent neck pain while study, helping both your health and your grades.
Your posture is by far the most influential factor when it comes to neck pain, and this is particularly true during study periods. Spending extended periods of time in any one position will always have negative effects, but spending a lot of time in the wrong position will be absolutely detrimental to your health. For this reason, it is imperative to be aware of how you position yourself, even if your mind is focused on notes.
The best way to make sure you are in the correct posture is to make sure that your body is essentially in right angles, not unlike a set of steps. Your ears, should be directly above your shoulders, which in turn should be directly above your hips. This will keep your back at a right angle to your knees, which should be directly above your ankles.
If you’re studying on a computer, how you position your screen will directly influence your posture, and in particular, your neck. Your screen should ideally be propped up to eye level, allowing you to read what you need without tilting your neck or hunching your shoulders. This is particularly true for those of us who use laptops, as these are generally much smaller and lower than desktops. You may realise that tilting your head forward is not ideal, but it is actually far more damaging than people think. When standing up straight, your head puts about 10lbs of pressure on your neck. When it’s tilted at a 45-degree angle, this can increase the pressure on your neck as much as five times, so don’t underestimate the damage you can do by simply leaning forward.
Even with the correct posture and your screen in the right place, you need to make sure you’re moving your neck throughout the day. To do this, assuming your starting position is looking straight ahead, roll your head in an anticlockwise motion until you return to the starting position. Then, repeat in a clockwise motion. Do this several times, once an hour, and it will help keep your neck limber.
You may feel as though taking breaks is a waste of time, but binge-studying will not only negatively affect your neck, it will make you less likely to retain what you are trying to learn. The best way to address both of these issues simultaneously is to abide by the 52/17 rule. This says you should work for 52 minutes, then take a 17 minute break. During this break, you should ideally go for a walk, but lying down every so often is also advisable. This method helps keep your body from stiffening up, and gives your mind a chance to rest also.
Following these tips will not only help prevent neck pain, but will also have a positive impact on your mood and grades. Remember that too much of a good thing is bad, and studying is no exception. You may feel that cramming is the best way to go, but resist that urge, and you will see the rewards when the report cards come out.