How to Keep Good Posture When Reading

The proper way to read a book is to sit in a comfortable chair with a back.
The proper way to read a book is to sit in a comfortable chair with a back. (Image: Jupiterimages/Creatas/Getty Images)

Good posture is key to maintaining a healthy spine and can also prevent fatigue, back pain and headaches. It’s important to stand up or sit up straight at all times, even when you’re doing something as simple as settling in with a book. Here are a few ideas to maintain good posture while you’re reading.

Things You'll Need

  • Chair
  • Book or magazine

Sit in a chair that permits both feet to rest flat on the floor. Try to keep your knees at the same height as your hips. If your feet don’t touch the ground, use a footrest. Don’t cross your legs.

Scoot back in your seat, so that your back is firmly against the chair back. Use a pillow or a rolled-up towel behind to buttress your lower back if you want some extra support.

Make sure your upper back and neck are straight, but still in a comfortable position.

Relax your shoulders — don’t pull them back or hunch them forward. Hunching shoulders can pull on chest muscles and affect their flexibility, whereas pulling your shoulders back can make your abdomen jut out.

Pick up your book and tilt it up toward you. Hold it close enough to your eyes so that you do not have to strain your vision. If you have poor vision, you might want to consider investing in an electronic book or a book printed in a larger font.

Take ample breaks and avoid sitting in one position for long periods of time. Your body is designed to move frequently.

Tips & Warnings

  • Always ensure there is an ample light source when you are reading. Poor lighting can cause eyestrain.
  • Don't twist your stomach or your body when you are in a sitting position.
  • Avoid reading in bed, as it can cause neck strain. However, if you must do so, consider investing in a mini-desk to rest your book on.

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