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Vision and Posture (Part 2)

2 min read

The detrimental effects of typical smartphone and tablet use on posture is not a problem of our modern age. It is just an extension of the problem of the flat work surface.

picture of women hunched forward over an i-pad
Our bodies are not designed to read things that are flat on the table.

Plopping a paper document flat down on your desk in front of you to read has the same effect on your posture as placing your smartphone or tablet flat on a table. Same thing with reading a print magazine or newspaper laid flat out on the table as you graze over your lunch or held flat in your lap as you relax in the sauna at the gym.

Because the joint at the top of the spine (way up high between your ears) only allows the head to look down so far you end up bending the spine at the base of the neck, dropping your head forward or bending your whole spine (as I am doing reading on my ipad above).

Many years ago it was not uncommon for people to work at standing sloped work surfaces. At some point our current standard desk that accommodates right angled sitting and has a flat surface took over.

I am not debating the pros and cons of sitting vs standing desks. I’ll save that for later.

What I want to focus on is that the angle of the work surface is important regardless of whether you choose to sit or stand.

The optimal angle for reading is 60 degrees off the horizontal give or take. For writing, 10 to 20 degrees off the horizontal. You don’t need a lot of expensive ergonomic equipment in your home or office. However, some simple tools can go a long way to help your posture.

I have previously talked about a book stand, such as the bookchair below, which accommodates not only a tablet but also print magazines or books.

A bookchair like this can hold a book or a tablet in a much easier position to read comfortably.
A bookchair like this can hold a book or a tablet in a much easier position to read comfortably.
Reading an i-pad that is supported by a book stand at a good angle for viewing
Ah much better! Notice I have also given my entire back support with a big firm square pillow

I have recently also invested in a good quality slant board desk primarily for writing. It is adjustable and designed to hold reading materials but also comfortable for writing by hand.

Both a bookchair and a slant board can help transform a standard flat work surface into a more posture friendly work surface. If you invest in one or both make sure they are adjustable. See the Resources Page on the website for some suggestions.

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