Your homework might be giving you a pain in the neck

Crystal Hohenthaner

Crystal Hohenthaner

You sit, hour after hour. Slouching over your books and hunched toiling over the computer. So you’re a diligent student … okay, maybe you’re an avid video-gamer.

Either way, if you write, watch TV, or type at a computer for more than an hour at a time it is very likely that you slouch while you’re doing it. That means you could be seriously hurting your back and shoulder muscles.

Slouching, which is for the most part inevitable when seated for over 20 minutes, can cause tightness in certain areas and atrophy in others.

While proper posture is difficult to maintain, chiropractor Ericka Dickinson recommends students always avoid crossing their legs.

Dickinson and other chiropractors recommend students take a break once an hour and stretch one or more body parts. When stretching it is important to hold each stretch for 30-60 seconds. Be sure not to bounce or jerk while stretching.

It isn’t only good for your body to take a 3-10 minute break each hour. Breaks can help your brain restart and file information away as well.

If your shoulders are suffering the aches and pains of study time…

At left, junior advertising major Amber Hoxeng demonstrates a good stretch for the lower pectorals and the muscles that wrap around ribs. Stretch all muscles gently at first so that you don’t over extend any body parts.

Below, senior business econ major Brady Jacobsen models the same stretch on the opposite side of the body. Remember, it is important to stretch both sides of the body equally.

Amber stretches her upper pectorals and her deltoid (upper shoulder) muscles in the photo at right. In this stretch it is important to try to keep your elbows and shoulders even with each other, making your upper arm parrallel to the floor.

At far right, Brady demonstrates a stretch that affects the trapeizous (shoulder muscle connected to the neck muscles) and upper back muscles. This stretch is most effective if the arm across the body is kept straight.

Hips and lower back sore from sitting too long…

You can stretch out your hips and lower back by sitting in the butterfly position and gently pushing your legs down with your elbows as Amber demonstrates at right.

The tiger stretch might be the best thing you can do for your back, shoulders and hips. Start on your knees as Amber is in the top picture at right. Curve your back and bend your head down so that you are looking at your knees. Hold this position for at least 30 seconds.

Then arch your back in the opposite direction, as Amber demonstrates in the lower right picture. Be sure to look up at the ceiling. Hold this position for at least 30 seconds as well.

If you have a pain in your neck…

You can do a simple stretch to save your neck. Lean your head to one side and then lightly place your hand on your head.

Don’t pull your head down with your hand, but let the weight of your hand ease your head down and gently stretch the sore muscles.

Repeat on the opposite side as Brady does in the picture below

For your writer’s cramp…

Whether you’ve been typing or writing stretching your wrists is important to avoid long-term damage. Stretch each wrist in both directions.

Amber stretches her upper pectoral, forearm and wrist here. Place your hand backwards on a wall and turn you body away until you feel a small amount of tension.