How often do you use your laptop? Over recent years laptops have become increasingly popular. In 2005 they outsold desktops for the first time and are now considered to be the dominant form of computer. They were originally used mostly by business people for the convenience of working on the move. Today they are almost 10 times more commonly used than desktops and most people now spend many hours a day using them for work and entertainment. So, is it safe to use your laptop on your lap?
How does this affect me?
Although laptops are convenient, they can also be problematic for our health. As the time we spend using laptops has increased, Chiropractors have reported an increase in neck, back and shoulder problems.
It is believed to be more likely caused by laptops than desktops as desktops often have a reasonable ergonomic setup and few people do more than open a laptop and setting it on there lap or desk.
What are the problems?
One of the most obvious fallbacks with laptop ergonomics is its compact design. The way the screen and keyboard are attached means the display and keyboard can’t be positioned separately to suit your ergonomic needs. This often causes the user to lean forward and down to see the screen properly. If the screen is at an awkward angle this can lead to eye problems from trying to see the screen.
Back, neck and shoulder problems can develop for two reasons, this can be from carrying the laptop around in a shoulder bag and putting strain on your body from the weight. It can also be caused by poor posture whilst using a laptop, reaching too far for the keys or using it for a long period of time in a poor posture such as hunching down.
Did you know you can also damage your wrists and forearms when using a laptop? The keys are often hard to reach as they are often placed closer to the screen to make space for the mouse. This can cause the user to put extra pressure and strain on their wrists which can damage the nerves and tendons.
What should I do?
There are a few things you should consider when using a laptop.
As with a desktop, the screen should be at eye level and an arm’s length away. This will prevent you from slouching or stretching your neck to see the screen. You can purchase an adjustable laptop stand to achieve height and angle to meet your needs.
Having the screen in your eye line will prompt a good upright posture. It should prevent your spine from curving and your neck from straining as you no longer need to lean forward to see the screen. This will also encourage your arm to be parallel to the desk which will prevent straining the shoulder and wrist.
As the screen has now been raised you can no longer use the keyboard and mouse as this will put a severe strain on your body. Purchasing a separate keyboard and mouse will help your arms to be in the correct position.
Things to think about when buying a laptop:
- Does the screen angle adjust far enough to be at the right height when put on a laptop stand?
- How heavy is it to carry around?
- Do you need a laptop bag? The best ones are designed to be worn like a rucksack!
- If you are working away from your desk frequently, you may want to purchase a lightweight laptop stand.
- If you are mainly based in one place, a heavy-duty stand may be more appropriate.
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