7 Ways to Avoid Neck and Eye Strain While Reading

For most of the day, you’ve just been reading, an activity that does not require you to exert much physical effort. But for some reason, you feel discomfort around your neck and lower back at the end of the day. From time to time, your eyes also seem dry, itchy, and more tired than usual.

If you’re experiencing this, maybe it’s time to check on your posture and reading environment. We’ve rounded up easy-to-follow tips to reduce or avoid discomfort so that you could get the most of your future reading sessions.


  • Position proper light source.

While reading, make sure that your light source is not directly hitting your eyes or is positioned over your shoulder. Harvard Health Publishing said reading in dim light will not worsen your vision but could make your eyes grow tired quickly.

To take care of your eyes, it is ideal that a good light source is pointing directly onto your book, especially at night.

  • Take breaks.

We all know how hard it is to let go of a book, especially if you’re about to reach the climax of the plot. But we have to give our eyes some time to relax.

To successfully do so, you might need a little help from your alarm clock, phone, family, or friends. You may ask them to nudge or give you a quick reminder every hour. If they’re busy, too, use an alarm clock or gadgets to do so.

  • Try the 20-20-20 rule.

If you want to keep that 20/20 vision (or healthy eyes), try the 20-20-20 rule.

Do this by simply looking away from your book for at least every 20 minutes. While doing so, look at a distant object, which could be at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds.

  • Use the glasses prescribed by your eye doctor.

If you notice that your eyes aren’t as sharp as they once were, consult an eye doctor or ophthalmologist. Listen to the doctor’s advice and use glasses that he or she has prescribed, especially if you have difficulty reading smaller fonts.

To further help your eye health, eat fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin A and antioxidant vitamins such as C and E.


  • Mind your posture.

If your head is hanging forward while looking down at a book, your neck and upper back will work doubly hard to support your head.

Sit up as much as possible. It will help if you lay your feet flat on the floor while your back comfortably rests on the chair. Bring the book closer to your head and neck, not the other way around, to avoid hunching and straining your neck.

  • Stand up from time to time.

Sitting for long periods is not good for our body.

To avoid getting neck and back pains, you must get up and move around. This is the perfect time to grab a snack, drink water, or tidy up your reading corner.

  • Practice some stretching exercises.

Stretching is for reading marathons, too!

Include stretching exercise in your routine. This exercise helps improve posture and loosen tight muscles due to improper body positioning. It is also a great mental break if you combine stretching with mindfulness and breathing exercises.

Next time you grab a book, remember these quick tips to feed not just your mind but your entire body, too!

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Kumon is the world's leading after-school enrichment program. We offer two subjects: Math and Reading in more than 300 Kumon Centers nationwide.

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