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The Perils of Using a Laptop
Jul 16, 2021
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As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, countless employees worldwide have and continue to work from home. Many of these employees had never done anything like this before, and they were given hardly any notice and were sent home with just a laptop. Before Covid-19, just 7% of US employees had the opportunity to work from home regularly. As a result, most people at home lack chairs, desks, external keyboards, and expertise inadequately functioning from home with a laptop.

Employees must acquire crucial ergonomic laptop tips for working at home to avoid difficulty, strain, and pain. Laptops were not intended to be used as the main computer during the day. Laptops were designed to be portable for conferences and travel. When utilized at work, they are usually connected with docking stations that allow big displays to show the data. On the contrary, millions of individuals now work at home using laptops for an extended period, posing severe health concerns.

Are Laptops Ergonomic?

To grasp some of the ergonomic issues with laptops, it is necessary first to define ergonomics. Workplace ergonomics is the science of aligning work circumstances and job requirements to the skills of the workforce. When employment expectations exceed the capacity of the persons doing the task, they are more likely to acquire a musculoskeletal disorder. High load needs, uncomfortable postures, and prolonged task repetition/exposure are the critical ergonomic risk factors.

A laptop's design (with the display hooked to the keyboard) requires users to choose between lousy neck/head posture and bad hand/wrist position.

The problem: When the monitor is at the proper height for optimal neck/head alignment, the keyboard is far too high, forcing the user into poor hand/wrist positioning. When the keyboard is at the healthy height for appropriate hand/wrist position, the screen is too low, forcing the user into poor neck/head posture.

If the keyboard is at an optimal position for the user, the screen is not, and vice versa. As a result, laptops are exempt from current ergonomic design rules since none of the layouts meet this basic need.

Common Risks of Using a Laptop and What You Can Do About Them

Prolonged typing on a laptop keyboard may lead to pain and discomfort on the hands and wrists.

TIP:

  • Purchase a wireless mouse and keyboard. Typing on a laptop places a great deal of tension on your hands and wrists. There are mini, portable keyboard-mouse kits that are lightweight and easy to carry if you travel. You can get cordless Bluetooth ones because they are more flexible than corded devices. They are straightforward to set up and do not require you to plug anything into your laptop. It is also easy to move up and down if you have a height-adjustable standing desk converter.

Most times, working on a laptop causes one to look down at the screen. This can cause pain and discomfort in the neck.

TIPS:

  • Elevate your laptop to eye level to avoid bending your neck, and use an external keyboard and mouse to limit reach.
  • To begin, you can create your own laptop riser or mound solution at home using a stack of thick books, phone books, crates, or cardboard boxes.
  • Ensure your eyes are focused on the top of the screen and that it is no more than an arm's length away. If you intend to work from home regularly, invest in an external monitor with the necessary flexibility. FlexiSpot's Single Monitor Mount F7/F8L is an excellent low-cost home monitor arm. A separate monitor is healthier for your eyes and improves productivity. If you don't have one, elevating your laptop display will do great for preventing neck, shoulder, and back pain.
  • Buy laptop riser kits, which contain a laptop riser, a wrist rest, an external keyboard, and sometimes a mouse as well.

It is not recommended to use a laptop while lying on a couch. This can cause neck flexion, leading to pain and discomfort on the neck, shoulder, and back.

TIPS: 

  • Work on the sofa as little as possible. Instead, designate a specific working area for you to use every day. Make use of what you already have at home to establish a dedicated workspace. With a bit of imagination, you can turn your kitchen table, a compact display table, or a fold-up TV table into your workstation.
  • Invest in a height-adjustable standing desk and configure the presets to ensure proper sitting and standing heights. Regardless of how long COVID-19 lasts, buying and dedicating a home workstation is an excellent option. Most people could use a desk in their home anyway, and a height-adjustable standing desk for a family may accommodate numerous persons of various sizes, as well as serve other uses.

Working on a laptop in bed, whether sitting or lying down, can result in twisted and complicated positions, as well as neck flexion, which can quickly lead to discomfort.

TIPS:

  • You can be creative by incorporating a small workstation into your bedroom. Try to ensure the height allows you to sit with both feet on the floor and arms at a 90-degree angle.
  • Make sure you're sitting in a chair with enough back support. You may check these chairs here.
  • Your arms should be at a 90-degree angle, and both feet are on the floor. This is critical if you're installing a wall-mounted desk or sitting in various positions.
  • Standing desks with adjustable height allow you to stand and have the appropriate hand working height.

The strain on your shoulders and neck from pushing forward in a chair with an Ostrich neck is significant.

TIP:

It is critical to have a comfy ergonomic chair. You want a chair that provides enough lower and upper back support, like the Soutien Ergonomic Office Chair. If you find yourself slumping forward all the time, it's a clue that your chair isn't suited for you or that it's not correctly set.

Other Risks:

  • Leaning your body forward in your chair when using a laptop may make you look busy but unsuitable for you.
  • Working on your laptop on your lap for extended periods is not encouraged. Always use an auxiliary keyboard and mouse and position your laptop on a riser or mount.
  • When working on a laptop and staring down at paperwork or books, elevate your book or papers at a certain angle. This is so you can glance down instead of stretching and bending your neck to look. Purchase document holders or get clever with household items to raise those documents or books.
  • Working with one's feet tucked behind one's back promotes awkward positions and might cause stress. Ensure your arms are at 90 degrees and both feet are planted firmly on the floor when working at your desk at home. You may make use of a foot stand or a box as an option.

Take note of how you set up your laptop. A little thought goes a long way toward relieving and avoiding neck and back discomfort.