You're Reading Wrong! Simple Steps to Pain-free Reading

I love love love to read, but the older I get, the more I find myself having to push through body aches just to get to the end of the chapter. As in, my head might start to hurt, but I push through it. My neck and shoulders might start to hurt, but I push through it. My back might hurt, but I push through it. And so on. Until I can't stand it anymore, and I have to put the book down. It's annoying.

Sound like you too? 

Sigh, gone are the days of happily reading on my stomach under the covers with a flashlight.

3 Common and Not-So-Great Reading Postures

The following are some of the most common postures we assume when we read, but it can lead to acute pain, and, if we do it often enough, bodily changes that can cause chronic pain. 

  1. Reading before bed: We have our legs straight out, our back propped up by pillows, our book in our hands, and our necks double chinning. Or we are on our sides with our head propped up on a hand and elbow with our book next to us. 
  2. Reading at a desk or table: We sit at the dining table or a desk with our book open on the table, head in our hands.
  3. Reading on the couch with our legs crossed or with knees bent. 

You get the picture. All of these involve our necks being flexed forward with our chin going towards our chest and/or our backs hunching. This can lead to a lot of neck strain and shoulder pain. 

5 Steps to a Better Reading Posture

  1. Invest a couple bucks in a book holder. 
  2. "Build up" your surface so that the top of the book sits at eye level. 
    • If you are sitting at table, stack books up and place the book holder on top.
    • If you are sitting in bed or on a couch, stack pillows in your lap and place the book holder on top.
  3. Tuck your chin back and roll your shoulders down, away from your ears. 
  4. Make sure your back is supported, so sit back in your seat or prop your back with pillows.
  5. Move your body every half an hour. Set an obnoxious timer across the room so it forces you to walk over to turn it off (and reset it). 

Your Vision May Be a Culprit Too

If you feel a lot of eye strain or headaches when you read, your prescription may not be the correct one for you. Visit your optometrist to get your vision checked. 

Can't Break the Habit? Use Heat

Alright, we all know that habits are hard to break. So what if after reading, whether you did the above steps or not, you feel pain - what can you do? Use heat to soothe sore muscles, so take a hot shower, use a heating pad, or even a hot towel. 

In summary...

The next time you want to read the whole day, try reading with good posture at least for an hour. It'll make a difference in the amount of pain you feel at the end of the day.

Share how you felt after implementing some of these tips in the comments below!