Students learning from home get tips on ergonomics after complaints about sore necks, backs

WAYLAND, Mass. — Some students are finding remote learning to be a big pain the neck in more ways than one, prompting a local school to team up with a chiropractor to create an ergonomics guide designed to help students with body pain they reported feeling.

Pamela Riddle, a wellness teacher at Wayland Middle School, reached out to Dr. Brad Weiss of Natick-based Performance Health Center to develop the posture instructions after hearing from students that their necks and backs were uncomfortable from spending so many hours hunched in front of their Chromebooks and other devices.

Whether a student adjusting to the new learning structure or an adult working from home for an extended period of time, Weiss told Boston 25 News that it is important for everyone to adjust their positioning.

“Pain is your body’s way of saying something’s not right,” Weiss said. “If you don’t address it when the fire is just starting, it can grow into quite the flare-up.”

Ideally, everyone owns a proper ergonomic desk chair, tilted slightly forward with the lumbar support height adjusted right above the beltline, Weiss said. For those without such a chair, he recommended putting a pillow in that area of the lower back to help students sit up straighter and engage their core.

Laptops, in particular, pose a natural posture problem, Weiss said: The proper 90-degree position for your hands and keyboard naturally keeps the screen at such a low position that a person needs to crane their neck. If a docking station is not an option, a simple fix that can help is using a loose-leaf or three-ring binder to prop the screen up a little bit. For video calls, in which little typing is done, Weiss recommended students take a couple of delivery boxes and raise the screen to eye-level.

“Truth of the matter is, you shouldn’t be doing anything for long periods of time. Even the best chair in the world – that’s not been invented yet – you still need to get up every 15-20 minutes and move around; stretch, bend, take some squats, take a break.”

You can find the guide to ergonomics for remote learning on Performance Health’s website.

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