Laptops are great because you can use them pretty much anywhere. However, it’s the portability of laptops that can lead to making bad choices about our posture whilst we’re using them.
Posture when using a laptop
Depending on where you are using a laptop, you can be left with little choice in how it’s positioned. When using a laptop on a train for example, you’re forced to sit and look down at a screen that’s nowhere near eye level and probably not far enough away from you to stop you from leaning over.
Whilst once or twice this isn’t a problem, day after day of catching up on your emails on the way home from work can start to cause serious posture problems which will eventually lead to back pain and musculoskeletal issues. What you should do instead, if you do have to use a laptop whilst travelling, is to invest in a prop, which elevates your laptop so that it’s at least closer to your eye line whilst you’re sitting up straight. Also, make sure that you take regular breaks from the laptop to look around and refresh your eyes, which will give you a good opportunity to sit up extra straight in your seat and have a stretch.
If using a laptop at home, it’s likely that you’ll be sitting comfortably – until you pick up your laptop. Sitting on the sofa, your bed or even on the floor will usually cause you to lean forwards and round your shoulders, which can cause pain in your lower back, shoulders and wrists.
If you’re sitting at a desk or table, whether using your laptop at home or at work, you will usually need either a separate screen or separate keyboard, to allow you to sit with the correct, pain-free posture. This is because the screen needs to be an arm’s length away from you and it needs to be in line with your natural line of sight when you’re sitting up straight. If the screen is far enough away, the keyboard attached to it won’t be comfortable to reach and if the keyboard is nearby, the screen won’t be far enough away to stop you from slouching or leaning over.
Correct posture for using a laptop comfortably
Top tips for ensuring that you are using your laptop in a way that is ergonomically safe, to protect your back, whilst being comfortable to use include:
- Making sure that the screen is an arm’s distance away
- Making sure that the top of the screen is level with your line of sight
- Sitting up straight
- Making sure that your back and neck are supported
A good example of this is when you can use a laptop in bed without being in pain, or at least aching, the next day. To stay comfortable, lie on your back with your head and neck comfortably supported by pillows. Then, bend your knees and place your laptop on your thighs so that it’s just far enough away for the top of the screen to be level with your eyes.
Whilst this is the most comfortable position for using a laptop in bed, it’s likely that the screen could be a bit small for prolonged use and that your laptop will get hot – which, as it’s resting on you, would mean that you’re likely to get hot too.
Advice about using a laptop without hurting your back
For advice about how to use a laptop in a way that doesn’t cause you back pain now, or in the future, get in touch for an ergonomic assessment.
Our postural health assessments are suitable for those interested in how their posture may be impacting on their musculoskeletal health and wellbeing, as well as their productivity.
For more information, or to book an assessment for yourself or your company, call us today on 07794 311201 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.