Ergonomic Tips and Tricks

This is about to sound like an infomercial. Or maybe a doctor visit. Probably both. But first, here’s a little story: Despite the whole Lumerit no-debt pitch, I actually joined Unbound for a much simpler reason: my body was a mess. I couldn’t survive dorm life, and even the thought of studying for two hours a day at my own pace was daunting. (It hurt to lay down, to sit, and to stand. In many ways I felt like that dude from Green Eggs and Ham: “I would not, could not, in a box. I could not, would not, with a fox…”.) No matter what I did, studying caused me pain. Fast forward three and a half years, and my body’s still got its quirks. The difference is now I can manage them. Now, full disclosure, I’m far from being a certified professional. My only credentials are six years of trying to keep this body functioning, despite its best efforts to fall apart. I also have two doctors as parents. They may or may not have been a source of constant wisdom during my freakout sessions. And so, dear readers, may these tips and tricks help you as much as they helped me.

A) For Your Head and Neck:

1. Blue Light Glasses:

You may have heard of these already, or maybe not. Basically, they help block the blue light waves emitted from electronic screens which typically tire out your eyes and cause those slow-growing headaches we all love. While there is a range of products, including relatively cheap options you can get on Amazon, I have personally used and adored my glasses from Pixel Eyewear. Their styles are hip (if that’s a necessary quality), and you can even get prescription lenses. Whether you’re on your computer doing school, working, or even binging Netflix, I promise: they’ll help. I’m using them right now as I write this post…

2. Shaped Pillow:

This one might seem a little weird, but hear me out. We spend a lot of time sleeping. (Maybe not as much as we would like, but still...). The shape of your pillow affects your neck the rest of the time you’re awake. And while there isn’t a hard and fast rule here, if you’re having lots of trouble with aches, I’d consider testing out some contoured pillows. I personally bought one after my Capstone roommate (shout out to Krista) told me they helped her with migraines. So yeah. About two years later, my pillow is still going strong, and I don’t wake up wanting to call a massage therapist.

3. Mini Adjustable Desk:

I was in a coffee shop in my dad’s hometown when I first beheld this glorious invention. This dude just pulled it out of his backpack, clicked it into position, and got to work. I was mesmerized. Fortunately, my mom––the extrovert––dared to break the hipster, earbuds-in code and actually asked him what it was (while I melted under the table). He was so ecstatic about having discovered it that he didn’t mind explaining where he’d gotten from. It was the usual cornucopia: Amazon. I’m not gonna add a lot of detail here, except that having bought a couple of these (one which has doubled as an art stand), they can be tricky to fit in a standard backpack, so watch those dimensions and make sure to think about the size of your computer too!

B) For Your Back:

1. Yoga Ball:

Some people are obsessed with coconut oil, others apple cider vinegar. For me, it’s Yoga balls. Seriously, they’re amazing. (If anyone who ever saw a weird chick carrying one around Apex or Capstone a few years ago...that was me.) I’m thrilled to say my back is doing much better now, but I still use a yoga ball as my desk chair, exercise buddy, and Jedi levitation trick on video calls. Nothing’s more fun than bouncing without explanation… There are a few things I recommend though before making your yoga ball purchase: Choose the size based on your height: don’t be like me and go for the biggest one out there. Really. Once it’s blown up to where it’s firm, if it’s too big, you can roll off. And that isn’t fun––especially if you’ve got an audience. Avoid the ones with sand in them or that fit into a chair: These may seem appealing and even be marketed as helping with stabilization, but the purpose of a yoga ball is to keep your little back and stomach muscles moving––a.k.a. loose. So you want it to roll a bit. Not too far, obviously...

2. Stretch your hips––seriously:

Turns out tight hip flexors can cause back pain by themselves. Fantastic, right? The good news is this sort of thing is a relatively easy fix. Just get those earbuds in, count to thirty a few times, and you’ll improve your chances of a happy back. *See google or someone official at your gym for instructions on the best type of stretches.

C) For Your Hands

1. Separate Keyboard/Mouse (or trackpad):