If you spend any time working with computers, you’ll know the aches and pains that can be caused by too much time sitting in one place. With the increasing popularity of laptops, people are contorting themselves into smaller and smaller spaces, but the health risks of this can be severe. A staggering 198,000 cases of Upper Limb Disorders (ULD) were reported between 2010 and 2011, many of which could have been avoided by following a few basic health rules.
It’s important to spend a bit of time setting up your work area. If you’re planning on having a laptop as your main computer, sit at a desk and buy yourself an external keyboard and full-size mouse. This allows you to keep the screen at arm’s length, which will relieve eye strain, without having to stretch to type or click, giving your arms the chance to rest while you work. You’ll also need an external monitor with an adjustable base, or a good quality height-adjustable laptop stand. It might seem pointless but it’s a worthwhile investment, as having the centre of your computer screen at your natural eye level will save your eyes from tiring and allow you to keep your neck straight. If your laptop isn’t compatible with these accessories, it might be worth trading it in for something from the new range of Toshiba laptops.
A good office chair is also a must. Being able to adjust your sitting height will help with keeping your screen at eye level, and enable you to make sure your legs aren’t getting all twisted up under your desk. The key here is to find a posture that keeps your body as relaxed as possible, so you’re not putting too much pressure on any one muscle or joint at a time. Try to sit high enough that your feet sit flat on the floor, with your knees at a 90 degree angle. If you’re wearing high heels, slip them off – not only will your feet thank you, but you won’t be putting unnecessary strain on the rest of your legs. A chair with arms is preferable, as you’ll quickly find that having somewhere to rest will let you work for much longer. That said, don’t get too comfortable. Get up and stretch your legs for ten minutes every hour – the more you move around, the less strain you’ll be putting on individual parts of your body.
This is fine for an office, but what if you’re working away from your desk? Don’t take the ‘lap’ part of ‘laptop’ too seriously. Resting your device there might be all right for firing off a quick email, but if you’re going to be using it for an extended period of time it really is in your best interest to find a proper desk or a table, as you’ll want that firm surface to rest your arms on when you’re not typing. Muscle problems can take years to develop but that’s no consolation when you’re suffering with them. Save yourself a genuine pain in the neck and try fitting some of this advice into your daily routine.