Understanding Laptop Ergonomics is more urgent than ever.
With an alarming rate of people replacing their desktop with a portable laptop, it is no wonder that the number of computer injuries are increasing.
From an ergonomic standpoint, a laptop does not make the most ergonomic sense.
One of the biggest reason is because the screen and the keyboard are attached.
Thus, it is much harder to incorporate a laptop into an ergonomic workstation.
One of the main reasons are that...without a separate keyboard attached, it is impossible to have the laptop screen at your eye level.
That prevents typing safely
The basis of typing ergonomics is maintaining your wrists at a neutral position. Either way, you are unable to fulfill the ergonomic requirements of having both (screen at eye level and maintaining the neutral wrist position) at the same time.
Consider a desktop then...
So if you are going to be using your laptop for more than two hours, you should consider replacing it with a desktop.
Basic Laptop Ergonomics
1) Adjust your laptop screen to eye level
Most people don't notice it but the screen of a laptop is too low for your eye level. That is usually the cause of your neck and shoulder aches. That is no wonder going for massages are increasingly common!
Should I use a Laptop Docking Station?
There has been continuous debate of the use of an ergonomic laptop stand. It is true that it reduces the eye and neck strains, but you are compromising the ergonomic benefit for your wrists.
Use an ergonomic laptop stand / docking station but type it with your wrists lifted. See also hand posture. It is still not an ideal position, but still better than typing while resting your wrists on the base. You shouldn't be working on a laptop for extensive hours anyway!
2) Use a comfortable (ergonomic) chair that can be adjusted to your body's ergonomic sweet spot. If possible, recline the back of the chair to allow the monitor to be more closely aligned to your eyes.
3) Adjust the angle of your laptop screen so you can easily view the images without straining your neck.
4) Reduce the glare of your screen.
5) Practice good computer posture. Position the laptop directly in front of you. Do not use it with a twisted torso.
6) Attach a separate mouse for your laptop if you can, rather that depend on the touch pad or trackball.
7) Also, if possible, place a separate keyboard or a negative-tilt keyboard tray beneath your desk. Most desks are a little too high for you, especially if they are not ergonomic computer desks. With the keyboard placed lower than the desk, you can maintain a neutral wrist posture.
8) Take breaks every forty minutes. Look away at something distant or green to relax your eyes. This prevents eye strain.
Tips For Buying An Ergonomic Laptop
If You Had To Buy A Laptop...
Laptops are not designed ergonomically but if you had to buy a laptop, use this tips:
1) Go for the bigger screen and wider keyboard.
The recommended size should be at least 17". Smaller laptops tend to put strain on users as they tense their bodies to read the tiny screen and type on the miniscule keyboards.
2) Consider the weight. If it is heavier 4 kg (or 8 lbs), consider getting a pull along laptop carry bag.
Other things to Consider to supplement your laptop
* Consider getting a wireless keyboard, independent mouse, a raised laptop platform also known as a docking station.
* If you use your laptop all round (because it's easier too - I understand)...buy a monitor and an ergonomic keyboard to go with it. You can always get really cheap ones at second hand stores.
* Don't forget to practice good computer posture.
* Practice typing ergonomics. Don't over stretch your fingers.
* Read Laptop Ergonomics again to get it into memory!
Ref: Cornell University Ergonomics Web, Professor Alan Hedge and http://www.ergoindemand.com/