Laptop Ergonomics

Laptops were only meant to be a temporary solution. However, many of us, as well as our students, are now using laptops regularly if not daily. In many cases, the laptop is the only computer we use. Now that I’m sitting here at my laptop, I notice that ergonomically, I may be causing problems because of the way I sit and the way I place my hand. I also like to use my 12" laptop because it is lighter to carry. What is the proper position?

So I thought I’d put together some tips and then, in the process, find some ways to protect myself as well. I like my laptop and would rather learn ways to use it properly than give it up.

The Center for Disease Control’s “Computer Workstation Ergonomics” recommends if you use a laptop to:

  • Take mini-breaks every 20 to 30 minutes to break up repetition and static postures.
  • Maintain a comfortable viewing distance from your screen; about 18-30 inches.
  • Keep your head and neck in a neutral posture; avoid excessive neck flexion or rotation. Notice if after a few minutes you bring your head forward in an unnatural position and pull back to the neutral position.
  • Angle the screen so that it is perpendicular to your line of sight, if lighting permits. Laptop stands can angle the screen correctly.
  • Position the keyboard at elbow height, and keep your wrists straight while keying. Experiment with table height, chair height and keyboard angle to maintain neutral wrist postures.
  • If you raise your chair, use a footrest to support your feet. When you are seated your hips should be slightly higher than your knees.
  • If you are seated in a side chair or couch, use a pillow to support your arms while keying. This will help you maintain neutral arm, wrist, and hand postures.
  • Attach an external mouse instead of using the small constricted touchpad or trackball.
  • Clean the screen regularly using appropriate antistatic cleaning materials.
  • The hands and wrists should be kept in a straight wrist posture when typing and should not be resting on a palm rest, table, or lap while typing. Wrist and palm rests are designed to provide support during breaks from typing.

Next Tip: TBD