Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Ergonomic Set Up Posture Tips for Laptop user

In this day and age many people use their laptop as their primary computer, so it’s important to have it setup correctly in order to avoid back pain, neck pain, and other musculoskeletal injuries or strains. The problem is that laptop computers are designed with portability in mind rather than sound ergonomic principles. Basically, if the screen is at the right height then keyboard is too high, and if the keyboard is in the right position, then the screen is too close and too low. And laptop touchpads and trackballs are never very user friendly causing excessive motions and error rates. Given these challenges, here are laptop accessories and several simple ergonomics and posture tips to optimize your laptop set up:

Use a large screen: Use a laptop with the largest screen possible for your needs to avoid the stressful posture that results from straining to see the text on a small screen. Many laptops offer large screens (15" plus), but these can be difficult to use while on the go. There are a number of smaller notebook and ultra-portable laptops on the market, and while a smaller screen (12.1") can be useful in mobile settings, make sure that you’re able to read the screen characters and easily use the keyboard (the smaller the laptop, the smaller the keyboard). If you find yourself straining to see your screen, increase the font size.

Use a Laptop Holder: Place the screen at eye level. Ideally, set your laptop height and screen angle so you can easily view the screen without bending or rotating your neck, and put it about an arm’s length in front of you. To do this, you will usually need to elevate the laptop a few inches above your desk, which you can do by placing it on a stable support surface such as a laptop holder.

Use a separate keyboard: When using the laptop for extended periods, use an external, full-sized keyboard with your laptop and position it at a height that allows your shoulders and arms to be in a relaxed position, with your elbows at a 90° angle when typing. Ideally, place the separate keyboard on a keyboard tray beneath your desk surface to help ensure that your wrists stay in a neutral (flat) position.

Use a separate mouse: Be kind to your wrists by using an independent mouse rather than the mouse that’s incorporated into your laptop keyboard. Ideally, place the mouse on an adjustable-position mouse platform so you can keep it near your body and keep your wrist flat while using it.

Recline slightly: This will allow you to position the laptop keyboard and mouse with the least strain on your neck. Angle the screen slightly upward so that you can view the screen without having to bend your neck too far down.

Make your chair work for you;The type of office chair you use is critical. Basically, any office chair that is fully adjustable and has lumbar support will work, but you need to be sure to set it up correctly. Make sure you have proper lumbar support and that you do not slouch.

Take breaks: Take brief breaks every half hour, at the very least taking your eyes off the screen and letting them rest on something in the distance, and doing some simple stretches while at your desk, such as stretching your neck, shoulders, arms and legs. Every one or two hours, leave your desk to walk around to get your blood flowing and move your muscles.

Travel light: Be careful when carrying your laptop around. Carry your bag across your lower back in a messenger bag style, or use a backpack with dual padded shoulder straps (and avoid draping the bag over just one shoulder). If your laptop and components weigh more than 10 lbs, a roll-along carrier is the best choice.

For more posture tips.

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