Reading is an everyday task that can be painful with RSI – here are a few tips to help ease the load. The first thing to try and remember when reading is to maintain a good posture. Craning your neck over makes your muscles work hard to support the weight of your head and can compress nerves that nourish the hand and arm. One way to bring the level of the book closer without using your hands is to mount the book on cushions on your lap. This also makes it easier to tilt it towards you, rather than bending your neck over. If you’re reading at a desk, a tilt board (the same as you would use for writing) performs the same function.
Be cruel to books. Depending on the type of binding, they can be difficult to hold open. Bend them back until the spine snaps and they’ll yield more easily
- Hardbacks are generally easier to hold open than paperbacks
- Laying books open face-down and then piling more books on top is a good way of loosening the binding
- Library books or used books from second-hand stores are generally already well worn, which makes them easier to hold open.
One rogue committee member even suggests tearing out pages as you go (she might change her mind when our library books come back torn to pieces!)
There are a few gadgets around that take some of the work out of reading, such as:
- High-backed reading chairs with proper neck support are available from furniture stores, e.g. IKEA has one for about $150
- Some page turning devices are on the market. These strap onto your arm and have an extension that sticks to the pages
- Dragging the rubber end of a lead pencil across the page is one trick if pages are difficult to separate. A rubber thimble does this too
- Book-stands hold the pages open and tilt the book at an adjustable angle – recipe book holders are cheap and hold books at a good angle.
Be careful how you sit whilst watching television. Ensure that you have a good chair with lots of support so that you don’t have to crane your neck or back.
For more information see our Helping Hand sheet ‘Book Holders’.
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