Tag Archives: laptop

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.

Join the conversation, Questions? Comments? Useful? Please share with someone who you think this could help.

How to Correct a Low Computer Monitor Position Causing Neck Pain

So,  you’ve discovered that your monitor (laptop, tablet or desktop computer screen) is positioned too low on your desk (read my post about 4 monitor positions that cause neck pain) causing you to bend your neck for too long, straining your neck.  How can you go about correcting this and ease up the strain on your neck causing your neck pain?

“Catching Up On Email…” by Ed Yourdon under Licence CC BY 2.0

Well, firstly, the changes to your monitor are entirely dependent on the type of technical device that you use.  There are, however, certain principles that apply to all types of devices with a monitor that you might use that you need to be aware of in order to adjust your monitor correctly and reduce your neck pain.

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  1. Using the same device’s keyboard, mouse (or touch pad) and monitor and sit in the correct position for your body can be a bit tricky.  Often this scenario will place you in a really poor posture when using your device, and if this posture is prolonged, it will likely result in you developing neck pain. The way out of this it to lower your chair until your head is looking straight ahead at your screen and place the keyboard of your laptop far enough away so that your elbows are >90 degrees (open elbow angle) but not so far that when you lean back in your chair, your monitor is further than arms’ length away (which will result in forward leaning posture creating high risk of back and neck pain).  Phew!!
  2. Again, whether you are using a laptop or desktop (or tablet), your monitor needs to be at eye level, allowing the curve in your neck to remain neutral (chin level, not tucked in or poking out).  Your cervical lordosis (neck curve inwards as in the xray below) is pivotal for good posture behind your device.

cervical curvature
“Medical X-Rays” by Nevit Dilmen under Licence CC BY 3.0

3.  You will need some assistive device to help raise your monitor to the correct height.  Some desktop monitors have a built-in system that allows you to move the monitor up or down as desired, but most do not.

Let’s consider each scenario separately:

If You Use a Desktop Monitor

If you are using a normal, old fashioned desktop monitor, this will be one of the easier scenarios to raise your screen to the correct height.  Just use books (it’s cheaper), a monitor raise or an adjustable monitor arm (check our our monitor raise and adjustable monitor arm in our shop).

Computer ergonomics
“Computer Workstation Variables” by Yamavu under Licence CC 1.0 (Public Domain)

If You Use a Laptop

People who use laptops sit in terrible postures unless they use a laptop raise (check out our laptop raise) or books to elevate the laptop monitor to eye level and use a second keyboard and mouse.  Please ensure that you purchase a proper laptop raise that elevates the monitor sufficiently and doesn’t do a half job and leave you bending forwards over your machine. Alternatively, lower your chair until your monitor is at eye level as described above.

Good laptop raise setup

“Alu MacBook Desk shot” by David under Licence CC BY 2.0If You Use a Tablet

Tablets are an even greater ergonomic risk than laptops.  Their screens are small and their keyboards laughable.  If you’re crazy enough to use it like a working computer, you will have to get a tablet stand (and more than likely need to raise even that up on books to get it to the right height) as well as a second keyboard and mouse (check out our tablet stand).

Tablet Raise
Image by Pixabay under Public Domain.

This tablet raise/stand allows you to use your tablet like a computer, however, it will still need to be raised further on books etc to get the screen to eye level.  In addition, you will also need a keyboard and mouse to allow for proper ergonomics and to avoid unnecessary back and neck pain.