14 May The Scourge of Laptops
I can’t think of a worse design than laptops for creating poor posture, aching shoulders, neck and back, sore wrists and fingers, and eye strain, but there are solutions.
Using a laptop for an hour or two each day will likely not create problems. Extended use is another matter. The screen is too low, the keyboard is separated from the user by the touch pad and hand rest, and the keyboard is likely sitting on top of a desk, which is too high for shoulders, forearms, and wrists.
Improving the situation
At a desk, get a separate keyboard and place it on a pull-out platform, so that you can use the keyboard close to you with your arms at approximately right angles. As well, a standard keyboard overcomes a common laptop problem of small keys close together.
Get a separate mouse, placed at the level of the keyboard and close to it. That way, hand and arm can move freely and comfortably.
Raise the laptop so that the top of the screen is at about eye level, no higher. A shelf or a stack of books can help here.
When away from your desk and using a laptop on a table, raise the chair higher or sit on cushions so that you don’t have to reach up so high to use the keyboard. Bring along an independent mouse.
Avoid using a laptop on your lap! A rounded back with head thrust forward is about the only way the body can respond, and this leads to aching back, shoulders, and neck.
When transporting a laptop, use a small carrying case so that it can’t fill up with other things that increase the weight. Alternatively, transport the laptop in a backpack.
When placing a laptop in a vehicle, position it close to you so that you don’t have to reach far to lift it out.
Laptops are an amazing invention and really useful to so many people. Make sure your body doesn’t suffer from using one!
Reference: Nova Scotia Occupational Health and Safety. http://novascotia.ca/lae/healthandsafety/ergonomics/docs/AdjustingComputer.pdf