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Ask the Expert: How do I maintain good posture and alignment while at my laptop?

October is Rehab Month

Ask the Expert - Tech Neck

Achieving the proper alignment of the entire body, especially the optimal alignment of the neck, is very difficult when using a laptop. Most of us gaze down at the laptop, which means that while the legs and arms may be in the correct ergonomic position, the neck is often craning forwards or downwards. This can eventually lead to slumping in the chair to accommodate for the challenging neck position.

For many people, especially those with a predisposition to neck pain, this can cause a buildup of pain with time. Sometimes this can even immediately cause aches and pains that can worsen with continued use.

Unfortunately, computer laptop screens cannot be extended upwards (yet) to facilitate the proper alignment. So, we need to do it ourselves.

By implementing these simple things, you can address this dilemma and achieve proper ergonomics and alignment of the neck, arms, legs and lower back while working at a laptop.

  • Elevate your laptop so the top of the screen is around eye level. Use some thick books, a box or other props to raise it so that the neck can rest comfortably in neutral. This will help prevent repetitive strain, stress and irritation in the paraspinals, suboccipitals, and joints of the neck
  • Use a Bluetooth keyboard. Now that your laptop is elevated, you’ll need to use a separate keyboard to type. This will help you achieve proper ergonomic support for the forearms, wrists and elbows while maintaining your neck alignment
  • Review your chair and desk set up to ensure it’s ergonomic. Feet should be fully supported on the floor, the knees should be slightly lower than the hip joints, and the pelvis and back should be supported in neutral with a good ergonomic chair, if possible. The forearms should be supported, elbows bent at 90 degrees in a position where the shoulders are not ‘crunched up’ or hunched. Shoulders should also be able to rest comfortably back and they should not be in a forward, protracted state where the arms are reaching too far forward

Remember to take frequent breaks from your computer too. I also do the following:

  • Practice transverse abdominis contractions and gentle shoulder rolls throughout the day. Remember to keep mobile as you do your computer work, check out these desk stretches for more ideas
  • Do a posture check-in from time-to-time. Most people readjust their bodies into sub-par positions when they get distracted and as the day goes on, so it is good practice to scan your posture and readjust to keep those aches and pains away

Do you have any workplace wellness tips? Share them in the comments!

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