Stretching for success: prevent bad posture while you study

Limber up your body and mind with these easy movements
Are you feeling stiff and sore from hours spent studying at your desk? Sydney Uni alumna and physiotherapist Trish Pavely shares her easy steps to loosen your body, improve your posture and stay focused while you study.

Grow tall to think big

The best way to prevent back pain is to make sure you’re sitting with correct posture while you work. It can be hard not to slouch, but your body will thank you for it.

When sitting at your desk, make sure you sit tall and lengthen through the crown of your head. Support your lower back in the back rest of chair with your feet flat on the floor or slightly elevated on a footrest and hip distance apart. Relax your ribs and breathe gently into base of lungs.

A good workspace creates a good headspace

Your desk set up is essential when it comes to helping you maintain good posture and preventing musculoskeletal issues like neck, hip and back pain, and headaches.

  • Adjust the backrest of your chair to support curve of back
  • Ensure the seat of your chair is not too deep (palm width between the back of your knees and the seat edge)
  • Adjust chair height so that when shoulders are relaxed the forearms are at 90 degrees to keyboard
  • Elevate the screen so that the eyes are in line with the tool bar
  • Ensure you’re not repetitively reaching to use your mouse or keyboard.

Good habits lead to good results

Being aware of your body and developing good habits will help you stay focused while you study. A few simple strategies to work on:

  • Stand up for 3 minutes each hour.
  • Be careful when using phones and iPads to bring the device to eye level as much as possible. Hunching over, looking down at a device can cause neck and shoulder pain or stiffness.
  • If possible, alternate sitting with a standing desk for a few hours each day. You can make one using a filing cabinet or a bookshelf BUT remember to stand well too.

Get up and move

Listen to your body – if you feel a little discomfort get up and stretch. Some examples include:

While sitting

  • Push the back of your left hand into the outside of right knee.
  • Use your left hand to help rotate the body further around to the left, feeling a general stretch in the upper back.
  • Repeat on the other side.
  • Cross your right leg over your left leg
  • Gently push down through the right knee,
  • Lean forward with a straight back until you feel a stretch in your right hip.
  • Repeat on the other side and hold for 30 seconds.

While standing

  • Lean forward and place your hands on a chair or bench.
  • Slowly walk back until you feel stretch in your armpits and/or sides of waist and/or mid back.
  • Move your bottom as far back as possible without your back arching.
  • Hold for 30 seconds to a minute.


27 May 2020

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