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Back to School Ergonomics

Now that summer has ended and the school year has started, it is important to evaluate how much of your child’s time is spent sitting doing homework, computer work, reading, studying etc. The average school day is spent primarily sitting at a desk for up to 6 hours. According to a study performed by Dr. Myanna Duncan, Mr. Aadil Kazi and Professor Cheryl Haslam from the Work & Health Research Centre, Loughborough University, prolonged sitting can be detrimental to your health affecting your posture, strength, energy levels and sleeping patterns. The study also found that people who sit for prolonged periods of time during the day are more likely to sit when they are home as well.

A typical posture throughout the day tends to slouch or lean forward putting increased pressure on the spinal cord, the vertebrae, the discs, and the muscles. While, typically, a child does not complain of low back pain, the way they carry themselves and their school supplies can develop poor habits that could continue into early adulthood. There are few small things you can inform your child to do to relieve poor posture habits:

  • Look up when you walk. It takes practice to use and trust your feet and peripheral vision to avoid looking down at the sidewalk and floor with walking.

  • Retrain your core muscles through exercise and strength training.

  • Stand up and walk around every 20-30 mins (if allowed by your teacher) or learn how to stretch in a seated position

Lack of movement and exercise contributes to poor posture and can contribute multiple secondary problems. It is important to correct your work station which is relatively easy and a great solution for this common problem. Ergonomics can even help you be more productive and function better every day at school and at home. Use our checklist below to assess your desk or homework station and see if it measures up. Ergonomic Basics for homework and computer use:

  • Hips all the way back in your chair

  • Upper torso relaxed against chair backrest

  • Elbows, Knees, and Hips at 90 degree angles

  • Feet flat on the floor or on footrest if needed

  • Avoid tilting wrists back, keep fingers relaxed

  • Eyes in line with the first line of typing on the screen

  • Screen at arms distance away

  • Two inch space between back of knee and front edge of seat pan

  • Position mouse and textbooks so that you are not reaching forward to use them

  • Eliminate screen glare when using a computer

  • Use document holder placed close to the screen or textbook rest tilted at 45 degrees on holder for easy viewing of documents and books

The physical therapists at Mizuta & Associates provide on-site workstation evaluations and recommendations for people of all ages along with the proper core strengthening and stretches for posture reeducation. If you are interested in learning more information about ergonomics and workstation setups, please contact our front office.

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