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Video:Easy Laptop Ergonomics

with Jonathon E. Stewart

Laptops are badly designed for ergonomic use, but this doesn't mean you should throw your machine in the recycling bin. See how to practice good laptop ergonomics with a few simple adjustments.See Transcript

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Transcript:Easy Laptop Ergonomics

Hey guys -- Jonathon Stewart here for About.com. Laptop computers are one of the greatest inventions for attending to your biz on the go, but while their design is great for portability, it's not so great for your shoulders, neck, wrists and forearms. But take a look at these ergonomic tips for working on your laptop, and you'll be sitting pretty. Check it out.

Bad Laptop Ergonomics

Laptop computers are ergonomically challenging from the very get go based on their very design. If you situate yourself so that your keyboard is in an ergonomically ideal position, then your neck is generally forced to crane down toward the screen. If the screen is in an ideal position, then using your keyboard gets a little awkward.

Laptops and Laps

If you're only an occasional laptop user, the stress on your musculoskeletal system shouldn't be too terrible, as long as you heed a couple tips. As it turns out, the best way to use it is to actually place your laptop... in your lap. Go figure!

Laptop and Chair Ergonomics

Sitting in a comfortable chair that allows you to lean back and maintain good back posture, place your computer in your lap so that your wrist posture is as natural as possible. Adjust the screen so that you can see it with the least possible amount of neck deviation, and be sure to take breaks at least every hour to stand and stretch.

Now, if you're writing your thesis on Postglacial Plant Migration and Vegetation Development in the Western Canadian Boreal Forest, or hammering out the next Moby Dick, or if you simply sit with your laptop computer day in and day out, you should probably take further action.

Laptops and Neck Ergonomics

Start by elevating your computer screen in front of you, so that you can see it without bending your neck at all. Next, attach a separate keyboard and mouse, so that you are able to correctly position your wrists and arms as well. Position yourself comfortably in your chair, so that it allows your arms to comfortably rest on your desk.

Separating the screen and keyboard is the key here, and you can generally find external devices at a relatively low cost. Docking stations are another option, but can be significantly more costly and generally require your to purchase an external monitor as well. At some point on this road, you might actually consider getting a desktop computer...

Reduce Strain When Carrying Laptops

Carrying your laptop can also add unnecessary strain to your body. Consider using an insulated laptop backpack to distribute the weight evenly across your shoulders, or if you have a particularly heavy machine or a slight frame, you might think about employing a rolling case.

No matter what you do, whether you're working or traveling, pay attention to your posture and look for any signs of bodily distress. Computing isn't supposed to be painful, so keep your head up and enjoy. Chin down, actually, just a little... perfect.

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