Laptop and tablet computers are quickly becoming the primary way people interface with the Internet, their work, their social networks and even recreation. While desktop computer users benefit from an ergonomically configured workstation, far less attention has been paid to laptop use. However, laptop computers can be even more hazardous to your health.
Northwest Missouri University published a great study on laptop use – Oh My Aching Laptop! Among the problems documented were pins-and-needles sensations in fingertips, sore backs, necks and wrists, and blurry vision, all caused by too many hours on a laptop without the benefit of a healthier, ergonomic setup. There is now mounting evidence that laptop computers carry the risk of repetitive stress injuries (RSI).
Why Are Notebook Computers So Bad?
Laptop computers were originally designed for travel and part time use. Now that they have dropped in price, an increasing number of users spend many hours each day working on a notebook. The primary problem is that you cannot simultaneously position the screen at the healthiest point and the keyboard in your lap where it belongs. Thus without some external assistance, the user is going to either hunch over the laptop which can lead to neck and back problems, or reach up to reach the keyboard which can compress the nerves in the forearms.
Comfortable and Healthy Laptop Use
Healthy use of a laptop or tablet computer almost always requires the use of external devices. The least expensive approach is to elevate your computer with a laptop stand, laptop arm or even a couple of phone books; then add an external keyboard and mouse. If you spend long hours on your computer, creating a healthy laptop workstation in your primary office makes sense.
On the road, travel laptop stands and mini keyboards and mice will fit nicely into your laptop bag. Of course these tools can be used in the office too though people with larger hands, wider shoulders or pain problems may be better off with a full-size ergonomic keyboard and any mouse that they can use pain-free.
If you travel often, it may make sense for you to use either a well-designed laptop backpack or a wheeled laptop bag to save wear and tear on your shoulders and back. These days many are checkpoint friendly and are designed to get you through airport security faster and with less chance of losing your computer.
Personalize Your Tools
I do a lot of graphic work and have back, neck and hand problems so I use a dual monitor arm with a laptop mount and a sit stand keyboard tray so I can stand part of the day and benefit from two screens. How have you personalized your laptop workstation? Tell us about it. If you haven’t done so yet, how would you?
Check out our great selection of laptop ergonomic tools.