Laptop Ergonomics

June 13th, 2016

More and more, people are switching to using laptops as their primary computer. The convenience is hard to beat, but these computers were not designed with the human frame in mind.

Due to the screen and keyboard being attached, it is very difficult to get a laptop into an ergonomic position which will decrease strain on the neck, shoulders, and back. That being said, I will give you a few tips on how to get set up correctly to minimize the risk of posture/overuse type injuries from using your laptop.

First and foremost, try not to use a laptop to perform any tasks that you expect to take you more than an hour. If that isn’t possible then you should invest in a laptop stand that you can use to set the screen to an appropriate height (top edge of the screen at eye level). You can then plug an external USB keyboard and mouse into your laptop and use it the same way you would use a desktop!

If you want to go the extra mile, a docking station with dedicated peripherals and a monitor are also available and are compatible with most laptops.

When you find yourself using your laptop as it was intended (in your lap), follow the following posture tips to minimize strain:

  • Use a chair that allows you to sit upright or slightly reclined, with good back support.
  • If your chair lacks proper low back support, place a rolled up towel or small pillow in the small of your back to support the lumbar curve.
  • Sit upright with your ears over shoulders and your chin down only slightly at most. Tilt the screen to the appropriate angle to allow you to keep your neck in a mostly neutral position.
  • Avoid hunching over the computer to get closer to the screen. If you are leaning in to get a better look at what you are working on, you should either get new glasses, or increase the zoom on the screen to make everything larger.
  • Keep the keyboard at an angle that allows you to keep your wrists straight. If they are bent back too much, it could lead to carpal tunnel syndrome.

Another source of pain for laptop users can come from transporting the device. My advice to you would be to use a backpack, or rolling case if possible, but if you use a shoulder bag, make sure to switch which side you carry it on frequently, and that you are making the strap come across your chest.

In any case, try to keep the weight of whatever you are carrying your laptop in to a minimum. You also want to make sure that the heaviest item in your bag (likely to be your laptop) is the closest one to your body when you are carrying the bag.

I hope you find these quick tips helpful! If you have any questions about these or any other ergonomic set ups, feel free to email me or ask at your next appointment!