child, is totally mesmerized by the story in a good book, they manage to read through it without realizing that some simple attention to the following points could have enhanced their reading experience even further and perhaps helped them to avoid potential problems with respect to posture and accompanying aches and pains.
Maintaining good posture when reading has been known to be very beneficial to your spine and can potentially help to improve your concentration levels more so than someone who falls into the habit of slouching whilst reading.
The following suggestions are based on personal experience whilst reading and in my dealings with students who I have taught since 1993 which I believe still hold true to this day.
1. Sit in a comfortable but sturdy chair.
Proper support for your body whilst reading is extremely important as it will:
a) allow you to maintain proper posture,
b) help you to improve your focus on what you are reading, as opposed to trying to massage those aches and pains that develop in different parts of your body from improper posture,
c) help to improve your focus on what one is reading.
So how can you practice proper posture?
Practicing proper posture does not need to take huge amounts of your time, you just have to focus on ensuring that:
Your feet are properly supported. Do they dangle over a chair that is too high for you, particularly with young children who are reading? If so, change the chair. Would it be better to be wearing shoes, slippers or nothing on your feet? It is important to ensure that your feet are relaxed and that the potential of any cramps in your toes or calves are minimized. This point is also dependent on the location where you are reading. Surely it would not be a good idea, for example, to remove your shoes whilst reading in a public library, especially if you walked a good distance to get there on a hot summer’s day, but visiting whilst wearing a comfortable pair of shoes can easily make the reading experience that more enjoyable.
Tying in with the previous point, it is important that the chair you sit on is of the correct height and that your knees are just a few short centimeters past the seat of the chair allowing for a 90 degree angle to be made with your legs at the knee joint and again in your ankles.
If necessary, and to avoid any pain development in your lower back, a rolled up towel or small cushion could be utilized between the chair and your lower back region to provide further support and comfort. Hunching forward to read will only lead to back and neck pains over the long term.
2. Keeping Eye Contact
Many times people are viewed to be sitting correctly in a chair whilst reading however their head is bent over on account of the book having been laid out on a nearby table or else on their lap. After sometime pains can begin to develop in the neck due to the strain and weight of one’s head. In an ideal situation the material you are reading should be kept up at eye level which, in turn, will help to keep your back straight. This, however, is not always possible which, in turn, leads us to the next point.
3. Take Regular Breaks
Our bodies were designed to move and not to stay put in one position for a very long time. In short, we require breaks from everything we do, so whilst reading, it is important that you allow yourself a pre-set number of breaks but not too many as to distract you from the reading task, particularly if it involves reading for something important like preparing for an assessment or presentation. This will help to curtail potential aches and pains that develop in muscles that have remained in the same position for a very long time, allow for proper blood circulation and it will allow you to return to the book you are reading with a fresh mind.
Some examples of breaks you could take include getting up and pouring yourself a drink or preparing a small snack, going for a small walk and getting some fresh air, don’t forget the dog if you have one, or doing some light exercises. Whatever helps to reset your muscles and give them some movement will help to enhance the reading experience and your concentration.
4. Proper lighting
Ensuring that proper lighting is available whilst reading is also extremely important in order to avoid straining your eyes. If you begin to experience any of the following symptoms you may not be reading with adequate lighting.
a) eyes begin to get itchy
b) you begin to feel pressure or tension in the area of your face just between your eyebrows
c) you begin to start seeing double when reading, (this is a sign that your eyes
are trying to focus but are experiencing difficulties).
d) You start to get a headache
Prolonged reading with inadequate lighting will do harm to your eyes and vision which may necessitate a visit to your eye doctor so be aware of how much light is in the room that you are reading in.
Reading has been and will continue to be, whether in paperback or digital versions, an enjoyable and informative past time. It is something that we should continue to foster and promote with everyone irrespective of age but we should not neglect the points mentioned in this article no matter how much we are enjoying what we are reading. At the end of it all, if these points can help to further maximize the enjoyment of reading surely it is worth the few extra moments of time to ensure that all is correctly in place before delving into the reading material. The experience will be that much sweeter.