Laptops. The Root of all Postural Evil?
Almost all of us own or have access to a laptop these days. How often have you looked around on the bus or train and seen people head down into an email or film? School children are now even given laptops to use at home for their homework – but has anyone ever considered the impact of this on a growing child or adult’s spine?
No one can argue that there are huge benefits to owning a laptop. The portable nature and ease of use permits us a whole new way of life that just wasn’t available before. However, it is impossible to keep your neck and spine in alignment when using a laptop on a flat surface at the appropriate height for your arms. Similarly, if you elevate the laptop onto a higher surface so that your eyes are in the correct position, your arms and wrists become malpositioned.
What is the ideal posture when using a laptop?
- Your head should always be aligned with the rest of your spine
- Tip to check: does your chin stick forward from your shoulders?
- Shoulder should be relaxed and not hunched up
- Elbows should be relaxed and tucked in towards the body around 90 degrees
- Wrists and hands should be straight and not bent up or down
Regular laptop use
For those of you that use a laptop regularly instead of a PC ie: you have a specific area to work in as opposed to watching the latest episode of your favourite series on the train, there are some other useful things you can try:
- Position the laptop so that the top of the screen is level with your eyes
- Use a laptop stand (or pads of paper) to elevate it if needed
- Buy a separate external keyboard and attach that into the laptop (you can even get wireless ones now that don’t even need to be plugged in)
But what if I want to use my laptop on the go?
Here at Sydney Spine we recommend minimising the amount of time spent on a laptop whilst you are travelling. However, for those emergency situations that just can’t wait:
- Elevate the laptop where possible using books/folders to minimize the degree at which you need to tilt your head down.
- Use peripheral devices – a peripheral mouse and keyboard can make a huge difference to your posture.
- Keep your head in neutral and move your eyes rather than your neck.
- Use a rolled up jumper or scarf as a lumbar support for your low back.
- Take regular stretch breaks, rolling your shoulders forwards and backwards, and head side to side
And for the kids?
I have seen an increase in the number of children doing their homework or playing games on the train/bus on their way home from school and it scares me! Their posture is terrible and I can’t help but think about the impact of that on their developing spines and nervous system. Everything mentioned above applies to your children as well as you. The obvious extra advice (also applicable to both) is to minimise the amount of time that your children are using electronic devices. Encouraging movement and exercise to offset the sedentary time will only serve them well in the long run.
Here at Sydney Spine, Greg has a special interest and extensive experience in ergonomic set up. If you have any questions, or you are worried about your child’s spinal health, please call the clinic on 9231 5022 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Remember, having a chiropractic adjustment will help restore your spine to a healthy state after all those hours of working!