Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Fixing Poor Laptop Ergonomics

Tips for good laptop posture ...

"Got a MacBook for Christmas? I’ve used laptop computers almost exclusively for a dozen years now, and they’ve been great, but for day in, day out, workhorse duty the standard laptop configuration does have serious ergonomic deficiencies.

If you position the computer high enough for comfortable and ergonomically healthy viewing angle to the screen, your wrists will be cranked down in unhealthy ape-hanger mode, stressing soft connective tissues, including the troublesome carpal tunnel where the brachial nerves pass through your wrists to your hands.

Conversely, if you locate the machine low enough that your wrists stay flat and relaxed, the screen will be where you must tilt your head downward in order to see it. A typical adult human head reportedly weighs as much as a bowling ball, so that creates lots of stress on neck, shoulder and back muscles and connective tissues, and typical laptop user body language also tends to hunch your shoulders, hollow your chest and inhibit healthy abdominal-breathing.

Back when most laptops were used as satellites for desktop workstations on road trips or short duration portable tasks, their crummy ergonomics weren’t a big issue, but more and more people use laptops for their only computer. Apple laptops have been outselling the company’s desktop models since the early-mid ’00s. Apple’s 2008 10-K report showed Mac notebook sales more than doubling from 2006 to 2008, compared to “only” a 70 percent increase in desktop sales. IDC research reported laptop sales of computers in the overall PC market surpassed desktop sales in the U.S. for the first time this fall.
Deteriorating Posture

Most users don’t give computer ergonomics much thought until they begin to suffer pain, fatigue, weakness, headaches, numbness, nerve tingling, or even temporomandibular joint (TMJ) symptoms, one or more of which most users will eventually experience if they stay at it long enough. I’ve watched the posture of several people I know deteriorate after they switched to laptop computers — round shoulders, collar-gap at the back of the neck, hollowing chests.

The recommended posture working with computers is to position the keyboard flat at elbow height with elbows angled at +/- 90 degrees and forearms supported by wrist rests. The monitor should be at approximately eye level so you can sit up straight in a chair with back support, all of which are impossible using a laptop hands-on.
The Solution

The solution to laptop ergonomics is to use an external keyboard and mouse in conjunction with a laptop stand, of which there must be dozens on the market, whenever practical to elevate the screen to a proper viewing angle at your home or office workstation. Keyboard support at 24 to 25 inches off the floor is about right for me, and I keep the laptop on a stand elevated to a comfortable, low-stress, viewing angle."    (Continued via TheAppleBlog, Charles Moore)    [Ergonomics Resources]

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Blogger Michael Edson, MS, L.Ac. said...

Proper ergonomics along with regular eye exercise breaks is essential for helping prevent or mitigate Computer Eye Strain.

Our eyes and vision were designed for viewing distance as hunters and gatherers, and not for ongoing near work as required by regular computer use. As a result, Computer Eye Strain is becoming one of the major eye complaints heard by eye doctors today.

Symptoms can include increased myopia, blurred vision, headaches, slow refocusing, difficulty concentrating, neck, shoulder and back pain

Eye strain can be reduced significantly by taking regular breaks from the computer, resting your eyes, stretching and doing eye exercises.

For a demo of 3 great eye exercises by Dr. Grossman, one of the Country's leading behavioral optometrists, go to

Dr. Grossman also offers his free eye exercise booklet at his website at Natural Eye Care Free Eye Exercises with his 11 favorite eye exercises and acupressure eye points to massage regularly.

Finally, there is also an excellent section at his website on "Computer Eye Strain" under "Eye Diseases" that provides a Computer Eye Strain “Self-Help“ section with great tips of relieving eyestrain due to computer use.

For more information, go to Natural Eye Care for Computer Eye Strain

4:29 PM  

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