Everyone who has spent long periods of time using a laptop knows that they can be incredibly uncomfortable. Using a laptop means hunching, holding your head down and bending your arms in an awkward angle – a position that can lead to neck, back and wrist pain. But it’s a price we’re willing to pay to have a lightweight, compact and portable computer that allows us to work anywhere we like.
However, that doesn’t mean that there’s nothing you can do to make your laptop more ergonomically correct. If you like having a mobile work environment as opposed to a stationary PC, with the help of a few tweaks and accessories, you can reduce the discomfort and pain associated with bad posture.
Get a Laptop Stand
The laptop’s screen and keyboard are fused together, which forces the user to either assume a bad posture to be able to type and read from the screen at the same time. When the screen is at the right height to promote good neck and back posture, the keyboard is too high and requires you to maintain poor wrist and hand posture. But when you lower the laptop so that the keyboard is at the right height, the screen is too low and you need to hunch your head down to read.
Considering this, the best solution to solve this problem is to use a laptop stand. A height-adjustable laptop stand allows you to raise the screen at the correct ergonomic viewing height. This is when the top of the screen matches your eye level. You can then attach a separate USB or Bluetooth keyboard and mouse and recreate the comfort of a desktop computer. You can even use the stand for working on a tablet PC.
The design of some laptop stands also promotes airflow around the computer, which helps to keep it cool and can thus extend its lifespan. And best of all, this type of accessory is often lightweight and foldable, which means you can use it as a portable laptop desk anywhere you go.
When choosing a portable laptop desk, make sure that it’s the correct size for your PC. Laptop stands are available in many sizes from 10” to 17”. Also, check whether it has non-slip feet so that it can stay stable when placed on any surface. Some stands for laptops can even come with additional features that can help improve your productivity, like for instance document holders.
Sit Up Straight
Even though the name suggests doing this, the worst thing you can do is to rest your laptop on your lap when using it for long periods of time. By doing so, no part of your body is ergonomically aligned. The keyboard is bellow wrist level and the screen is way bellow eye level. Even if you don’t have a laptop stand, at least elevate the device on a higher horizontal surface such as a table to elevate it closer to an ergonomic position. Although it’s not ideal, it’s better than nothing.
Whenever you use your laptop for short periods of time while lounging on an armchair or on a sofa, the least you can do is avoid slouching. Although it’s natural for us to slump down in this situation, this position isn’t good for your back. Your spine needs to be properly aligned and supported in order to stay healthy. So, even when you’re using your laptop in your lap, make sure that you sit up straight with your torso and lower body form a 90o angle and your feet touching the ground.
Adjust the Screen
Laptop screens are smaller than desktop monitors and as such can cause more eye strain. To prevent your eyes from getting tired easily, make sure that the screen is properly adjusted. Ensure that there is good contrast so that you can read more easily. More contrast makes edges more discernible which means your eyes don’t need to focus as much. If possible, keep the brightness in the room at a moderate level so that there isn’t too much contrast with the screen and the surrounding area. Overhead lighting or task lighting such as a desk lamp are the best sources of illumination.
In addition, make sure that you position the laptop at a spot where there’s no reflection or glare. Don’t let it face any windows, light sources or other screens in the room. Some laptops can come with anti-glare technology. If this is not the case with yours, you can purchase an anti-glare filter which goes on top of the screen to reduce mirror-like reflections so you can see better even in challenging conditions.
Since the light levels change throughout the day, there are also apps that you can download to adjust your screen’s brightness accordingly. This way, eye strain can be reduced, especially during night-time use, which helps prevent any sleep problems.