How to avoid book reading injuries

It’s World Book Day, 7 March 2024, and our friends and Angel Courtyard neighbours at The Imaginarium have been extra busy stocking up with exciting reads and putting on events for the local Lymington School children.

With Spring in the air, we’re looking forward to balmy hours in the garden with a good book or perhaps the beach or the woods.

If you or your children have fallen out of the habit of reading, World Book Day is the ideal opportunity to rediscover the pleasure of reading. But as with everything, it is possible to get injured from reading, so we thought we’d reshare our thoughts and advice.

In the modern world we are all lifelong readers whether for pleasure or for information, we consume a vast number of words on a daily basis. For many, this will be via smartphones, tablets, laptops or desktops. There is a plethora of advice on how to avoid injury from using technology, but have you ever thought about the possibility of being injured from reading a book? Even a quick Google search will turn up mostly ironic tales of injuries incurred whilst book reading – often focusing on the ridiculous positions people may find themselves in because they are so engrossed in a story. Have a look at this video from Epic Reads – do you recognise yourself here?

Yet this problem was taken very seriously in the nineteenth century by the Duke de Aumale, who had the most amazing reading chairs in his library at the Chateau de Chantilly, France. They resemble an early laptop with a sloping easel, which could be pulled over your lap, once seated, to rest your heavy tome upon. A modern version of these chairs would be perfect for hardback lovers, with their supportive structures, comfortable padding and footstool.

How to avoid injury when reading

If, like chiropractors Fiona and Colin and our receptionist Sally, you are an avid reader or you are someone who reads from large, weighty books for a living, here are our top tips to avoid the very real prospect of injury.

Take regular breaks

Just like reading from a phone or tablet, you need to take regular breaks to avoid putting too much stress on your neck (and hands if holding your book). Get up and move around for a minute or two.

Be conscious of your posture

There is a good reason there were reading chairs in libraries. Reading in bed (or hammock) can cause neck pain, so if this is your preferred reading location, consider providing a bit of support for your shoulders when sitting up in bed. And if you’re like Colin’s kids and read front down lying on your bed – watch the chin jut! The top of the neck into the base of the skull will really take the pressure. So, whatever the position – take regular breaks.

If you love stretching out on the floor, curling up in a ball, squatting on a window seat or even standing on your head while reading – then make sure you take regular breaks. Maybe set an alarm on your phone or ask your watch to give you a nudge every 20 minutes, or just take a break after each chapter (unless you are reading Ulysees, of course). Use a table or reading easel to bear the weight of heavy books.

Use bags or trolleys

If your work involves carrying heavy books around, or you’ve overindulged at the bookshop/library, balance the books in 2 bags (one in each hand), but expect the shoulders to ache if they’re really heavy. Or, more simply and sensibly – use a trolley bag or briefcase-on-wheels.

Most importantly, don’t let pain or discomfort prevent you from enjoying a good book. But if you do, remember we are here to help. We won’t laugh at your injuries – we’ve all been there!