How to Use Your Laptop Safely
I often blame my poor posture on the fact that I’m a student. Although I’m not sure that’s completely true, one thing if for sure though, after working for a couple of hours straight on my laptop, my neck and back get sore. I’m not a Kin major, but it’s no secret that laptops are ergonomically poor. The angled screen below your line of sight forces you to look down, causing your body to compensate by slouching forward, rounding the back and placing strain on your neck. Despite this fact, students seem reluctant to do anything about it. Yes, I know, you’d look like a dork if you followed all of the recommendations UC Berkeley outlines in their Ergonomic Tips for Laptop Users document. The way I see it, by optimizing your regular working environment you can alleviate much of the strain you put on your back each day. Here are my recommendations to avoid looking like the Hunchback of Notre Dame.
Raise Your Screen
In last years Hack College Dorm Room Essentials Guide , Kelly mentioned the Griffin Elevator laptop stand. The Elevator raises your laptop so that the screen is at eye level, allowing you to look straight ahead to maintain proper posture. Other laptop stands exist, but if you’re on a budget, a pile of textbooks will suffice. You’ll need to purchase a mouse and keyboard with this type of setup, but these costs are minimal compared to the medical bills you could be paying in the future.
Purchase A Secondary Display
The price of monitors is plummeting each day, as Laura highlighted a good sized screen can be had for under $250 these days. By plugging your laptop into a screen you eliminate much of the ergonomic problems associated with a laptop, while simultaneously doubling your screen real estate. Win.
Work on Your Core
At its root, poor posture is the result of muscle weakness, tightness and imbalance. If you’re slouching, chances are your core (abdominals, obliques and erector spinae) is weak, your chest and neck are tight and your hips are tilted. You’ll need to meet with a professional to evaluate your own personal decencies, hopefully they’ll be able to set you up with a back fixing regime. Personally, I’ve had success following Cressey & Robertson’s Neanderthal No More program. A word of caution though, it’s not for the weak stomached and uncommitted.
Living a balanced lifestyle has become cliche term, but it’s one thing we do advocate at Hack College. Get outside, go for a run, play intramurals, take a dance class. It’s not healthy to spend all day everyday in front of your computer. At the end of day, your brain, social life and back will all benefit from some time away from your screen.
I hope these suggestions have at least made you aware of the postural downfalls of using a laptop for extended periods of time. If you notice that you’re beginning to slouch, make the fix right away before it’s too late. Personally, I’m moving to a standing desk this upcoming semester, but I’ll save that discussion for another day.