Is your laptop posture friendly?

When people come into clinic with body pain and mention they spend a long time in front of a computer screen, either for work, leisure or both, we always ask about how their desk is set up. A correctly set up desktop can be posture friendly, but with so many people tending to use laptops and tablets, we thought we'd take a look at some things you can do to make them user friendly.

Why are laptops bad for our posture?
When we use a laptop, we generally position our head so that our eyes are in the best position to see the screen clearly. If the screen is lower than our head height when we're sitting at the device, we will poke our chins forwards and drop our head down to lower our gaze and look at the screen… I see you correcting your posture whilst you're reading this! This hunched posture leads to tight and overstrained muscles around the neck and shoulder area and alters the natural curves of our spines. Of course, the opposite posture can be just as pain inducing, when we crane our neck to look up at a screen for too long.

As we get engrossed in our task, be it surfing the internet or a tricky spread sheet, we become completely unaware of how we are sitting. Our bodies are clever things and are good at ignoring our posture for a while but will start to ache if we sit in that posture too long.

How can raising your device help?
It's generally recommended that if you're using a device for a prolonged period of time that the screen is raised to be at a height were our eyes are in line with the top third of the screen. By raising the screen up, we correct the poor spinal posture which in turn helps to optimise the amount of effort the surrounding muscles have to do to maintain our posture. There are several things you can do to help your posture, but if you can only achieve one, raising your screen is a good place to start!

How Do I Raise My Screen?
There are several options here. The most simple solution is to stack some books underneath the device so your eye level is one third of the way down from the top of the screen. If you have the ability, you could also connect a wireless mouse and keyboard to your laptop to create your own desktop style set up. If you're using a tablet, consider a tablet stand or cushions under your elbows to help you sustain a raised arm posture.

Alternatively, there are many laptop stands and slopes on the market to suit all budgets which help to sit the laptop at a more suitable height. However, depending on your situation you may want to consider the following things when deciding which one to purchase:

  1. Compatibility with the size and weight of your laptop
  2. Height adjustability
  3. 'Footprint' on your desk
  4. Sturdiness
  5. Portability – is it lightweight and compact for travelling, or bulky?

This is only a basic insight into some of the things you can do to help improve your posture and pain levels if you're suffering whilst using a laptop or tablet. Pain issues can easily be addressed in clinic by discovering why that pain is occurring and then looking at the best way to help you make small changes to your environment to help support a better lifestyle. If your pain is getting you down, why not come and have a 15 minute free consultation and ask us how we can help you feel good again?

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