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Ergonomic Laptop Setup Tips

30 January 2024

The amount of stress put on your neck and back can vary depending on how you set up and use your laptop. Millions of workers worldwide now work from home as a result of Covid-19. These workers did not receive any prior warning and the majority were sent home with only a laptop. This is concerning because most U.S. workers hardly ever had the privilege to work from home before Covid-19. As a result, there were no proper arrangements, such as workstations, chairs, or laptop stands to work productively at home.

However, the rise in work from home practices has given rise to ergonomic furniture for workers. Ergonomic furniture can prevent workers from developing various health issues associated with sedentary lifestyle and poor posture. When you're working on your laptop, the worst thing you can do is place it in your lap and type away. Despite the consequences of maintaining poor posture and not having proper ergonomic resources, workers continue to suffer while endangering their physical health.

Due to their portability and productivity, laptops are used by over 91% of digital nomads. However, there is a significant issue with using laptops over the long term: lack of laptop ergonomics. You see, laptops were first intended to be used for brief durations when a person did not have access to a desktop computer. Over time, as laptops were improved, their popularity increased year after year, finally displacing desktop computers. Long-term laptop use increases your risk of developing back discomfort, neck and shoulder pain, and other physical ailments. Let's understand why this happens.

The screen and keyboard are too close together, and since they are so small, we are often forced to adopt uncomfortable postures including resting our wrists on hard, flat surfaces, leaning forward, dipping our heads downward, and hunching our backs. At first, these positions might not seem uncomfortable, but over time, they can put stress on our bodies and cause damage to our joints, nerves, and muscles. Laptops are therefore not perfect, but you don't have to give up yours just yet. A comfortable laptop ergonomic arrangement is possible.

A lot of the more intriguing advancements in laptop ergonomics today may be found in research paper excerpts and laptop accessories. This revised checklist of laptop ergonomic best practices is based on the most recent technological advancements and research though.

Why Is Using a Laptop at Home Dangerous for Your Ergonomics?

Laptops were not intended to be used as the main computer all day. In fact, they were created only for the purpose of travel and portability. In other words, when utilized at work, they are frequently paired with docking stations that allow huge monitors to project the data. Contrarily, millions of people use laptops to do their business from home, posing serious health hazards over time. The good news is that by following the correct ergonomic tips, you may work safely and productively from home while using your laptop.

Ergonomic Laptop Setup Tips

Don't Put Your Laptop in Your Lap

Despite the fact that it is referred to as a lap-top, you might not want to use it on your lap. In order to see the screen in this position, you frequently have to slump down and tilt your head forward, putting additional strain on your cervical spine. Try supporting your laptop on your laptop bag or briefcase to raise the screen if you must work without a desk.

Habitually placing your laptop on your legs results in an unpleasant, constrictive posture. You run the risk of forward slouching, which would strain your back and constrict your chest. It is ideal to avoid using your laptop on your lap at all times, but we would at least advise lifting it slightly on a padded lap tray. In order to avoid unintentional drooping, sit with your back straight and keep your ears no further forward than your shoulders if you must periodically prop your laptop up against your thighs.

Extend the Height

You can simply view the screen on a laptop at the right angle and height without having to bend or rotate your neck. Place the laptop on a firm support platform, such as a laptop stand or a standing desk converter, and raise it a few inches above your desk. When you stare straight ahead, your eyes should naturally land in the top third of your screen.

Take Regular Breaks

It's simple to become lost in your routine duties. Before you realize it, you've spent hours sitting at your desk. Due to the flat profile of a laptop, staring at the screen all day might be painful for your wrists, shoulders, and back.

While using your laptop, you can alternate between sitting and standing to offer your body the much-needed break from prolonged sitting. Purchase a standing desk or a converter stand to transform your current desk. After that, alternate between standing and sitting once every hour. It can also improve hip mobility and reduce back compression.

Even though you are motivated to work, it is crucial that you take breaks occasionally and stand up to prevent back and spine discomforts and other long-term effects. Set aside a specific period each day to focus on your obligations, or use time-management strategies. This will enable you to focus on your task more effectively and give your body a break from lengthy sitting.

Use a Separate Keyboard

One of two things should be done when working on a laptop for a lengthy period of time:

1) Place your laptop's screen at eye level using an extra keyboard and mouse.

2) Place your laptop keyboard at a height that permits your shoulders and arms to be at ease, and use an external display at eye level.

When typing, your elbows should be at a 90-degree angle, your torso should be closed, and your wrists should be neutral. By maintaining this position, you can avoid rounding your shoulders and tensing your neck muscles.

Increase the Height

One of the primary issues with using a laptop is that the screen is too low when the keyboard is at the proper height for your wrists. However, there are occasions when it is uncomfortable to plug in an external display, especially if you are working while on the road.

Here's what you can do: you can boost the monitor height by purchasing a laptop stand or a desk converter with tilt and adjustment capabilities. Maintaining proper posture and relieving stress on your back and neck are both enhanced by having the top of the display level with your eyes. Additionally, you may get a lightweight, ergonomic laptop stand that fits perfectly in your laptop bag, so you won't even notice the added bulk.

Enhance screen size

Although laptops are made to be portable and simple to use, make sure the screen on your laptop is big enough for everything you do. You might have to strain to view objects and text on a smaller screen. You can also increase the font size if you find yourself leaning forward to read from your screen.

Choose and Ergonomic Chair

Even if there isn't a seating option that may instantaneously relieve back discomfort, the correct workplace chair can support your back and encourage improved posture. Pick a chair with a height adjustment so you can make sure that you place your feet flat on the ground and your thighs are parallel to the seat. The chair's back should provide back support to accommodate your spine's natural curve. To prevent slouching, lean back into the chair and adjust the armrests so that your arms are flat against the desk and not at an unpleasant angle.

Get a Separate Monitor

When you have enough space and resources, pairing your laptop with an extra monitor can be a smart move. Earlier, we said that elevating your laptop on an ergonomic laptop stand can assist you raise the monitor height to eye level. By connecting an external display, you may continue to use your laptop while keeping the keyboard and trackpad at a comfortable height for your arms and wrists. The external monitor can then be lowered or raised as needed as you work.

Get Accessories

Buy extra power cords and other laptop accessories if you frequently transport your laptop between home and work so you may leave them there rather than dragging the extra weight back and forth. To avoid draping the bag over just one shoulder, you might also wish to purchase a backpack with two padded shoulder straps. A roll-along carrier can be the ideal option if your laptop and accessories feel excessively weighty.

For many users, laptops are more practical for various reasons. Most of the time, they are more portable and cheaper. However, finding comfort while using a laptop might also be a little difficult. Individuals typically use their laptops while dining at a table, relaxing on the couch, and even lying down. We don't advise or support any of these ways because they may lead to lower back pain in the long run as well as decreased productivity and loss of concentration.