You pass by a mirror and, for a second, think someone’s following you. Who is that hunchbacked posture person shuffling along with their nose in a medical book? Oh right, that’s you.
The pursuit of your passion often means studying for long hours, and may take a toll on your sleep, your eating and your posture. Your mother always told you to sit up straight, but she’s isn’t around for your marathon study sessions. And if you’re going to dedicate mental fortitude to something, it’s probably going to be to memorizing the differences between antiarrhythmics in cardiac pharmacology for your USMLE Step 1, not to making sure your posture is perfect the whole time. But while poor posture leads to a whole slew of aches and conditions you don’t want, improved posture is possible in a few easy steps. First, give yourself a reality check by assessing your posture, then…
Set yourself up for success, beginning with the kind of chair you sit in. Do you study on the couch or in an armchair, curled awkwardly around your books or with your laptop in your lap? We get it, it’s called a laptop. But that doesn’t mean that’s where you should always have it. It’s too easy to slouch in a comfy chair or hunch while staring down at the computer sitting on your knees.
Instead, sit in a firm, high-backed backed chair and place your study materials on a table in front of you. Scoot your hips against the back of the chair and then do your best to keep your back pressed against it as well. If you’re struggling to align with the chairback, you may place a small pillow or rolled towel behind your lower back to support it. Make sure your hips are at knee level or a little below.
Now that you’re in the high-backed chair, the first thing you search for is something to prop your feet on. Break this habit! It inevitably leads to your hips and lower back sagging away from the chair. Plant your feet on the floor, and kick-start good posture from the ground up.
As you sit and study and study and sit, your body caves in on your anterior side. Because of this, you tend to take shallower breaths, which can contribute to an overall weariness. Breathe in slowly through your nose, fill your belly with air and hold it for a two count. Then release and repeat two more times. The fresh and full breath will energize you. Toss in a little backbend on the inhale, and your whole torso will thank you.
The human body is designed to be in motion. Your body is trying to tell you this when you develop that annoying crick in your neck or your butt goes numb from sitting. So once an hour, get up, put on your favorite song and dance, dance, dance. If you have limited space, sitting works too. Or every other hour, take a 15-minute break to do these posture-perfecting poses.
Cut Down Your Study Time
Of course if you’re looking for a workaround to having to actually monitor your posture, you could just cut down your study time by studying with Picmonic. Research shows Picmonic’s audiovisual mnemonic methodology helps students master information faster and retain knowledge longer.
About the author: Jenna Lee Dillon writes about the topics that interest her most: food, women’s health, food, how to be a Super Brain Hero, food, travel, books and food. She was once called a Grammar Nerd and thought it was a compliment.
Ron Robertson, Co-founder & CEO, Picmonic Inc.
Ron Robertson founded Picmonic as a 3rd-year medical student at the University of Arizona. He’s at the helm of Picmonic’s mission to lead and inspire a new era of learning through innovative and effective educational solutions. Ron holds a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry from the University of San Diego with a focus on memory science, is the product visionary behind Picmonic, and is involved in every aspect of the company.
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Remember more, boost your test scores and maximize your potential with Picmonic, the world’s best visual study tool for medical school, nursing school, and more! More than just pharm flashcards and study guides, the Picmonic Learning System will help you dominate your classes and review for the USMLE Step 1, USMLE Step 2 CK, NCLEX®, PANCE, MCAT, and more with our research-proven mnemonic learning system.