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Laptop and computer ergonomics

Updated on December 26, 2016

In addition to utility and portability, laptops bring with them some very serious hazards to our health. A lack of attention can turn things really ugly. So here’s how you can prevent bad things happening to your health.


It’s usually surprising to hear healthy young professionals complaining about

physical discomfort due to overwork, but it’s an increasingly common phenomenon these days. In this day and age where computers have become

literally mandatory in a work space, working long hours without physical

movement is almost inevitable. In this section, we talk about the harmful

effects of improper laptop usage and how to prevent and cure them.

Lounging

As a rule of thumb, one should avoid using a laptop on a sofa, a couch or inside a car. They aren’t the best places as far as you body posture while usage goes. If such scenarios are unavoidable, make ensure that you take precautionary measures.

PROBLEM: Neck, back and lower back Sitting in your comfort zones is different

from when working on a desktop PC. When using the latter, you tend to sit

upright and the top of your screen (monitor) fairly matches your eye level.

Therefore, you look at the screen with an upright neck and back. It’s even so because the height of your chair may be adjustable. This is an ideal position,

but a laptop’s screen can’t be adjusted independently except an occasional

swivel. Furthermore, when on the lap, the height of the screen obviously doesn’t

match with your eye level. This forces you to tilt your neck forward and hunch your back a little to view the screen properly.

SOLUTION: In such cases, keep a foot rest underneath your feet to raise your

legs higher. There’s a plethora of laptop accessories available for this and many

other purposes. One of the places you can look at is http://laptopstands.in

(Rife Technologies). It’s a good one-stops hop for accessories for laptops and for

desktop PCs. The stand elevates the laptop, and hence its screen matches

the eye level giving your neck and back a comfortable posture. Alternatively,

you can keep something underneath the laptop to get the same result.

PROBLEM: Wrists, elbows and arms When using a laptop improperly, elbows,

wrists, and fingers are also affected drastically. A laptop on the lap causes your arms to extend downwards causing the hands move upwards, which is very harmful for the wrist. Similarly, if you haven’t been positioning your wrist properly while using a laptop or a desktop keyboard or mouse, chances are that you will hurt your wrist in more than one way. There’s a medical condition called Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, where the wrists are affected. It is when the median nerve inside the wrist gets pinched causing acute discomfort and pain. Other symptoms include pain and weakness in the thumb and fingers. These symptoms are intensified with strenuous physical and laborious tasks. It can be treated medically and in worse cases, surgically. Always remember that prevention is way much better than cure.

SOLUTION: Wrists should be kept straight or in a neutral position so that they don’t bend in any of the four directions. For elbows, maintaining an obtuse angle (more than 90 degrees) between the forearms and biceps gives an open angle to the elbows which ensures comfort. Finally, learn touch typing, it will help you to use a split keyboard and to also type much faster. All in all, the best way to use your laptop is to keep it on the desk and maintain an upright posture while you use it. Avoid a chair which doesn’t have a back rest.


Tips

  1. Avoid carrying accessories in your laptop bag to reduce its weight.
  2. When carrying your laptop, swap it from one shoulder to another.
  3. When feeling discomfort in any of your joints, stop, find out why it’s happening, change your sitting position re-position your laptop.
  4. Don’t sit continuously for long. Change your posture and take short breaks.
  5. Avoid holding a mouse with pressure. Use it as if pushing it, not carrying it.
  6. Try to maintain a straight posture (neck and spine) as far as possible.
  7. Try using a split keyboard.
  8. Finally, for any sort of medical condition or disorder caused by computing, consult you doctor or a specialist if need be.

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