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ADVANCE Perspective: Physical Therapy & Rehab Medicine

Tweaking laptop posture

Published October 28, 2010 9:00 AM by Danielle Bullen
Are you reading this post on a laptop? Are you hunched over, shoulders in ears, as you furiously pound away at the keyboard. Or perhaps you're relaxing on your stomach, head and neck bent at an awkward angle. Trust me, you're not alone. At the office, I use a desktop, but at home, I frequently commit posture sins while surfing the Internet on my laptop.

Poor laptop posture (and really, just poor posture in general) has given rise to an increase in neck and back pain. So what can you, I, and the estimated 39% of Americans who own a laptop do?

There are some easy fixes to create an ergonomically correct work space.    Consider a laptop stand and wireless keyboard, especially if you use a laptop at the office for eight or more hours per day. Proper body alignment is head and neck in a neutral position, shoulders relaxed, elbows close to the body.  If you use your laptop occasionally, try to sit upright. Place a binder beneath the laptop on your lap to prop it up.  Don't forget to take stretch breaks every 30-45 minutes. Your back and your eyes will thank you.

One of the best things about laptops is the portability. But carrying it to school or the local coffee shop brings its own issues. Put as few things as possible in your laptop case. Consider a separate bag for books, files, water bottles, whatever you drag around every day. Don't forget to switch shoulders when carrying your laptop bag or even better, carry your laptop in a backpack.

With a few tweaks, you can have better laptop posture. It might be more comfortable in the short-term to update your Facebook status lying down. In the long term, though, sitting up straight will be a benefit to your back.

posted by Danielle Bullen
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