What is the Best Position to Read a Book? [Helpful Guide!]

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If you are a book nerd like me, it is easy for you to spend hours at a stretch when reading a book! One thing that we often don’t pay enough attention to is the posture we adopt when reading. The position in which we read a book can have an impact on our body in the long run!

The best position to read a book is while sitting on a chair with your back upright. Ensure that your feet are firmly placed on the ground with your knees bent at a 90-degree angle. Keep your head straight and avoid tilting your neck. If needed, support your elbows and use cushions for comfort.

We’ve looked at some of the most common positions people maintain when reading, and in this article, we share the answers we’ve found to most of the questions regarding position and posture when reading a book.

Most Ergonomic Way to Read a Book for Good Posture

Proper ergonomics when reading a book decreases muscle fatigue, eye strain, and discomfort.  The most ergonomic way to read is sitting correctly on a chair or bench.

The way you sit is very important. You have to ensure that different parts of your body are provided with adequate support. More specifically, you need to provide support to the muscles around your back, neck, legs, and eyes.

  1. Back Muscles – When reading, ensure that your back is supported. For the best ergonomic way, it should be pressed parallel to the back of the chair. This keeps your spine in a safe position, especially when you sit and read for long periods.

    Use a chair that has a relatively straight back and provides support without bending when your back is rested against it.
  2. Leg Muslces – You need to make sure that your leg muscles are relaxed. Your thighs should be parallel to the floor with your feet on the floor, and your knees bent at a 90-degree angle.

    Make sure that your legs are not pressed too hard against the edge of the seat as this could stop the blood flow to your legs; thereby creating discomfort.
  3. Neck – Don’t bend your head too much. If possible, raise the level at which you hold the book. This will bring the book closer to the eye level. But, keep your book at least an arm’s length away in such a way that you don’t slouch forward or bend your neck too much to read it.

    If needed, make use of pillows or a desk to provide support to your raised elbow.
  4. Eyes – Make sure that you hold the book at the correct distance from your eyes. Ensure that you have adequate light focused on the book while reading. Avoid reading in dark or reading a book with very small letters. Make sure that you follow these steps to avoid getting a headache due to reading!

Reading with the correct posture can make it a great experience and help you enjoy the book thoroughly without any body pain!

Most Comfortable Position to Read a Book

Sitting and reading in a good ergonomic way, is also usually the most comfortable position to read a book.

To keep your blood circulation efficient, you can lift your feet and legs using a footrest like this Ergonomic Memory Foam Footstool [on Amazon] or a simple Ottoman Footstool [on Amazon]. This can help you ensure that the edge of your chair doesn’t cut off your blood supply to your feet.

Hold your book in such a way that you don’t have to bend your neck. You can do this with the help of support for your elbows with pillows to maintain the correct posture throughout your reading time.

If possible use a cushioned chair for added comfort and keep your back supported. This is considered by many as the most relaxing, comfortable, and ergonomic correct posture to sit.

You don’t have to buy a new chair if your existing chair doesn’t provide adequate support for your back. Simply purchase this Ergonomic Lumbar Back Support cushion [on Amazon] and use it with any chair or sofa that you have at home!

Best Position to Read a Book in Bed

Photo by Monstera from Pexels

For many lying down while reading is just as comfortable as sitting down, especially if you read just for the joy of it and don’t have to concentrate on the content of for instance a non-fiction book.

The best position to read a book in bed is when you keep your back upright and your neck is not tilted forward. Make sure that the book is raised to eye level and avoid bending your head forward. Stretch out your legs straight on the bed. Use cushions to support your back.

A University of Sheffield research group reported that reading provides relaxation and release from daily pressures. This is one of the main reasons why reading in bed at night is so popular.

There are, however, different ways of reading a book while in bed.

Sometimes, you might roll onto your side to read. You can either stretch out fully with one arm straight in front of you or curl up in the fetal position with your knees to your chest. Both these positions are comfortable ways to read. But the most important drawback of these positions is the strain you put on your eyes.  Your book and your eyes are not in line.

Perhaps you like to read while lying on your stomach. This is tricky! It’s difficult to hold your book when you are on your tummy. It is an option to prop yourself up on your forearms with the book on the ground in front of you but this can become uncomfortable quickly.

If you like to read lying down, whether it is only to relax during the afternoon, or before you fall asleep at night, it isn’t the best reading position in bed. Reading while lying on your back can be very relaxing. The great problem with this position is that you can strain your eyes quite easily if you hold your book incorrectly.

Try to hold your book in such a way that your eyes don’t have to look down to read. You can lift your head by putting a cushion on your lap to lift the book. This will reduce eye strain.

What is the Proper Posture to Read a Book at a Desk?

Whether you are sitting in a chair when you read or sitting at a desk reading a book, the ergonomic aspects are the same. You have to sit with your back parallel against the back of the chair with your knees at a 90-degree angle and your feet flat on the floor or a little platform.

The problem when reading a book at a desk or table is that you can easily put the book on the desktop and then slouch forward or bend your neck to read it. This posture can cause you back and neck pain.

According to a study an additional 10 pounds of weight is felt on the cervical spine for every inch that the head is held forward in poor posture. So, just 1 or 2 inches of a forward head posture when reading the book on your desk can double or even triple the load on the cervical spine.

To prevent slouching and neck bending, it is recommended that you get a stand to put your book on so that it is on the same height as your eyes.  Without back and neck pain you can focus and concentrate on the content of the book you’re reading. 

Is it Better to Read Sitting or Lying Down?

In general, you have a better ergonomic posture if you are sitting rather than lying down. An important component of having good posture is to have your feet flat on the floor. This means that reading in bed isn’t the most ergonomic position.

Moreover, when you are reading a book in bed, it often becomes difficult to maintain a good posture as it is a natural tendency of the body to slouch and lie flat to become more comfortable.

But if you are in bed and want to read, ensure that you have your legs straight out. This is the best position for your spine and can be very relaxing.

No matter which position you adopt for reading, it is recommended to take a break for 5 to 10 minutes every 1 hour that you spend reading!

Stretch your legs and move around a bit. This can help not just relax your muscles, but it can also help your eyes to re-adjust the focus.

Credit to Tima Miroshnichenko from Pexels for the featured image of this article.

About the Author

Akansha is a former business journalist and a seasoned communications professional. She is the founder of TheBookBuff, an avid storyteller, and a lifelong biblophile! Check out her profile page to know more about Akansha.

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