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Helpful guide to relieve back pain in students preparing for exam

Today most of us experience back pain due to poor lifestyle habits. Back pain can range from a dull, constant ache to a sudden, sharp pain that makes it hard to move. It can start quickly if person fall or lift heavy items, or it can get worse gradually. Even though back pain can affect people of any age, it is more common among adults aged between 35 and 55 years. According to experts, back pain is associated with the way our bones, muscles and ligaments in our backs work together. Pain in the lower back may be linked to the bony lumbar spine, discs between the vertebrae, ligaments around the spine and discs, spinal cord and nerves, lower back muscles, abdomen and pelvic internal organs, and the skin around the lumbar area. Pain in the upper back may be due to disorders of the aorta, tumours in the chest, and spine inflammation.

Though anyone can suffer from back pain, but some factors that increase risk are:

  • Poor physical fitness: Back pain is experienced by people who do not have good physical condition.
  • Obesity: A diet high in calories and fat can make person gain weight. Too much weight can stress the back and cause pain.
  • Heredity: Some causes of back pain, such as ankylosing spondylitis, a form of arthritis that affects the spine, can have a genetic constituent.
  • Psychological conditions: Students prone to depression and anxiety appear to have a greater risk of back pain.
  • Smoking: It has been observed that students generally start smoking in their academic life. This can keep their body away from delivering enough nutrients to the disks in their back.
  • A mentally stressful job.
  • Gender - back pain is more common among females than males.

It is normally observed that students have to spent long hours in reading, studying or completing assignments, working in labs. Sometimes they have to work in prolonged, awkward, and static positions. Students often sit in poorly designed seats and at awkward desk arrangements. They regularly use computers for longer periods. Prolonged sitting during these actions may cause muscles and other soft tissues to become stretched or shortened compared to normal. Muscles may be overworked or become continuously contracted. Blood and lymph flow may be restricted. Soft tissues may become inflamed. Nerves may even get irritated. Students then suffer from back pain.

The unusual stresses placed on the student's body may result in discomfort that range from minor and transient, to pain or tenderness which lessens overnight, to debilitating pain which hinders or prevents completion of necessary tasks. Pain from the poor or prolonged postures may present as headaches, neck and low back pain, pain in the shoulders, elbows, wrists, and hands. If pain is severe, it may even be felt radiating down a leg to the toes or down an arm to the fingers.

Back pain can be evaded through adopting some tactics. Experts recommended that students or aspirants of competitive examination must change one's study habits, work style, and study or computer work area frequently in order to alleviate significantly or abolish completely to the pain. It is necessary to develop good habits as a student. It can certainly help to avoid future problems.

Best activities students can do to prevent back pain are:

  • Exercise often and keep back muscles strong.
  • Maintain weight or lose weight if they are obese. To have strong bones, they need to get enough calcium and vitamin D every day.
  • Try to stand up straight and avoid heavy lifting. If they have to lift something heavy, bend their legs and keep their back straight.

There are specific ergonomic guidelines to improve posture and develop study habits.

Students may have poor posture if one is deeply concentrating on the work at hand. It is very difficult to consciously maintain proper posture. But, if the study space is arranged properly initially, then there will be no need to constantly checking his or her posture.

A very common posture frequently seen in university area is a slouched position due to sitting in a chair with poor low back support. Instead of the low back maintaining its natural arch, the low back instead rounds out. The upper body and head drop forward, causing the upper neck to extend in order for the head to remain looking up. Instead of the spine bearing most of the weight, muscles, vertebral discs, and ligaments bear much of the upper body weight. Over time this slouched position may cause pain. To avoid pain some ergonomic tips are recommended.

The desk should have sufficient knee room so that one can scoot close to the front of the desk. There must be sufficient desk top area to place the computer in a position whereby the monitor is approximately an arm's length away. It should be at a height such that one is able to maintain the wrists in a neutral position when using a computer while the shoulders remain relaxed.

Regarding chair, it should be adjustable, comfortably padded with no sharp edges on the seat, maintain the spine in a vertical or slightly reclined position. If the chair does not provide passable low back support, then a lumbar cushion, rolled up towel, or folded sweatshirt should be used. And, once good support is available, students can use it. Do not have the tendency to sit on the front of the seat and not using the back support. Chair must allow for the hips and knees to be on roughly the same level and for the feet to be placed flat on the floor.

The monitor should be positioned directly in front so that the body and head are not rotated. Monitor must be positioned such that the top is at or just below eye level.

The keyboard should be positioned with the letter "b" in the middle of one's stomach to prevent wrists from deviating to one side too much. The keyboard should be raised to a height so that the wrists are in a neutral position. Using a palm rest for the keyboard and mouse will help prevent extension of the wrist. The keyboard and mouse should be used with the elbows maintaining roughly a 90 degree angle and being kept close to the body.

Other Tips include:

  • Keep the computer or books in front of you, not off to the side.
  • Keep the shoulders relaxed while studying. Periodically perform shoulder shrugs, rolls, and squeezes to reduce the tension in the shoulder blade and neck muscles.
  • Do not sit with legs or knees crossed for extended periods of time.
  • Do not allow wrists to rest on the sharp edge of the desk when typing or resting.

It is important for candidates to improve poor study habits.

Some techniques can be helpful in preventing or alleviating the onset of pain. Some of these include:

- Study in well illuminated areas to avoid eye strain and to avoid bending in order to see the reading material or computer.

- Take intermittent "eye breaks" to relieve eye strain. Focus eyes on objects in the distance.

- Take occasional study breaks such as a standing/walking break for a few minutes every 30-60 minutes. This increase in muscle activity will stimulate improved blood flow to those areas which have been kept in a shortened or lengthened position while studying.

- Alternate computer or study time with unrelated activities to allow different muscle groups to be used.

- Change study or work areas occasionally if possible.

- Perform periodic stretching exercises of the back, neck, shoulders, arms, wrists, and fingers.

If the back pain is severe, they must immediately see the doctor. Before visiting to doctor, it is suggested to write down key personal information, including mental or emotional stressors in their life.

It can be said that anyone can feel back pain in their life. But some factors trigger pain such as poor posture, long sitting while study, lack of exercise, overweight, Improper lifting.