Milliken Hand Rehabilitation Center

Ergonomics For School

Here we are again, it’s August and the return to school has happened! In my house, emotions are constantly changing about the return to school. There is excitement, nervousness, anxiety, and readiness for the routine of the school year to resume. What you may not have thought about are the possible injuries that can occur with the change in activity. These changes include sitting at desks/computers and carrying heavy backpacks.  We have provided some precautions you can take to avoid injuries that can be prevented with proper ergonomics:

  • Backpacks – make sure you have a backpack that fits you. If it is too large, it is difficult to maintain good posture when carrying your bag. Also, do not overload your backpack (it has been recommended to only carry 10 – 20% of your weight). Remember to use both straps. A pediatric study conducted in 2018 addresses the effects of heavy backpacks and back pain in adolescents.
  • Computer/desk ergonomics – set up your computer space to allow you to sit with good posture. Tips for this include:
    1. feet flat on the floor or feet on a raised surface (step stool for example)
    2. knees level or slightly lower than hips
    3. low and mid-back support
    4. wrist in a straight position
    5. elbows at your side and at 90-degree angles
    6. screen monitor at eye level
  • Use pencil grips or larger girth pens – to use less muscle force with writing. This can allow you to write longer with less discomfort or fatigue.
  • Sitting with corrected posture during class –sitting up straight with shoulder blades gently squeezed together, not letting your head sit forward, and avoiding resting on your elbows to prevent extra stress on the nerves in your arms.
  • Take breaks – if you are studying or writing papers and sitting for extended time periods, make sure to get up from your seat and take breaks frequently.