How to setup your laptop for a home office

Working from home has become the new normal and even when life returns to the “old normal” at some point, many people will still continue to work from home, if not full time, then certainly for a portion of a working week.

Week 1: Working from home...

“Week 1: Working from home…” by Mish Mish is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

This has meant that kitchen tables amongst other things have become the new working desk with a definite uptick in neck and back pain and headaches.

The point of this post is to explain how to sit comfortably at the kitchen table or other desk while working at your laptop, especially without accessories, since most people don’t have them.

There are 4 main elements of your sitting posture that you need to be aware of to reduce any body discomfort especially neck and back pain as well as headaches:

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  1. Keep your head in a neutral position i.e. looking straight ahead at your screen. This may mean dropping your chair so that your head is at the same height as the laptop screen or choosing a lower chair.
    • Looking down for too long will give you neck pain as well as a stiffer neck which long term could lead to pain in the arms.
    • Looking up at a screen will quickly give you both neck pain and headaches.
  2. Keep your elbows at an open angle above 90 degrees.
    • If your elbows have an angle less then 90 degrees and close to your body, it causes your upper trapezius muscles to contract and after time you will end up with neck pain.
  3. Make sure that your screen is arms’ length away when sitting back in your chair and not further, unless your spectacles require it.
    • With your screen too far away, when you concentrate you will find yourself leaning forwards to look at your screen resulting in slouching and poking chin postures.
    • Result: back pain, neck pain and headaches.
  4. Don’t let your legs hang even slightly off the ground.
    • If your legs are hanging even slightly, you will either lean forwards and slouch to get your feet to touch the floor or leave them hanging uncomfortably. Both end in back pain.
    • Find a firm box or ream of paper to put your feet on. Anything that caves in will strain your body and reduce your concentration.

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