Thursday, October 09, 2008

Posture the key in prolonged laptop use

Get that posture right ...

"Originally used mostly by businesspeople who travelled often, laptops have recently begun to outsell desktop computers. More often than not they're light, compact and cute as a button, and everyone, from high-school students to CEOs, are carrying them around.

More and more often, people are learning how to set up their desks in a way that's appropriate to their needs, and offices are becoming increasingly sensitive to issues of ergonomics. Desktop computers are still causing problems, but it's laptops that are the real troublemakers these days.

Now that we're all using laptops more and more often, for longer and longer periods of time, it's important to remember that handy as they are, they're causing some serious problems for the human body. There are a few things to remember to keep your laptop use pain-free and posture-friendly.

First of all, laptops aren't actually meant to be used on your lap. Everywhere you look, people contort themselves into the strangest positions to make laptops usable. Holding your laptop in your lap leads to postural positions that are a massage therapist's worst nightmare. Hunching over, squeezing arms tight and flexing wrists to reach the keyboard and poking your head forward to see the screen can all lead to back, neck, shoulder, wrist arm and hand pain.

Instead of putting your laptop on your lap, place it on a solid surface. The real problem with laptops is that the screen and keyboard are stuck together. Your computer screen should be directly at eye level, and a keyboard should be placed so there is no strain on the wrists or shoulders.

You want your screen further away, and your keyboard closer, than a laptop will allow. If you are using your laptop as your primary computer, use a laptop stand to elevate the screen, and get an external keyboard and mouse. This way, you can place everything so it is properly adjusted to your body.

Make sure you are seated properly, and that you are comfortable, not hunching your back or straining your neck or shoulders.

Though laptops are lovely and compact, a bit of accessorizing will help save the long-term user a world of pain."    (Continued via Ottawa Business Journal)    [Ergonomics Resources]

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