Laptops make us able to work more flexibly and be more mobile but they have been blamed for causing work-related back, neck and shoulder problems. The increased popularity of laptops may also be adding to the problem. They were once used mainly by busy business people who had to work on planes or trains, but not any more. Thanks to low prices, the rise in home working and wireless internet access, laptops are everywhere. In 2005, laptops outsold desktop computers for the first time ever.
Chiropractors are seeing more neck, back and shoulder problems due to excessive laptop use. A recent research paper commissioned by the Health & Safety Executive [PDF] confirmed that musculoskeletal and other problems were aggravated by awkward, static postures, prolonged use without breaks, and carrying heavy computer bags (especially over one shoulder).
So what can we do to reduce the likelihood of suffering form those back and neck aches?
- If using a laptop, invest in a stand to place it on (available from PC suppliers) as this ensures the screen is at eye level.
- You should also buy a normal keyboard and mouse to plug in, making it much easier to use the laptop in a more ‘back friendly manner’.
- Use a rucksack design laptop case, carry it on both shoulders and adjust the straps so that the bag is held close to your back.
- When on the move with your laptop, take time to check your bag or briefcase for items you will not need. It is amazing how much unwanted ‘stuff’ quickly accumulates and the additional weight in your bag is extra weight that your shoulders and back have to bear.
- Never sit and twist your back to use a laptop.
- Use your laptop on a stable base where there is support for your arms, and not on your lap.
- Take regular breaks. If you’re moving, there’s a lot less stress on your muscles and joints.
- Adopt good sitting posture with lower back support, and ensure that other desk equipment is within reach.
- Get into good habits before the aching starts. Neck, shoulder and back problems gradually build up over time.
- If shopping for a new laptop, consider buying a stand to enable you to view the screen at the proper height.
Take a look at this short video which illustrates a few common mistakes and how to correct them: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CqOheOnMLe4
Next time- Revenge of the Tablet………….