As the name suggests, laptop computers are designed for convenience, but care must be taken when keyboarding on laptop computers. Despite its name, these portable computers should not be positioned on your lap for two reasons: first, this positioning will result in poor keyboarding posture that can result in neck, shoulder, back pain, or headaches; second, the extreme heat thrown off by these units has been shown to cause some internal damage when placed on laps for regular periods of time. Maintaining a "neutral posture" is preferable, and tips are included below to help you.
Position your laptop keyboard on a stable laptop stand at an ergonomic height. Laptops are not designed ergonomically. The fact that the screen and keyboard areas are connected means that proper monitor height and keyboarding hand positions cannot be set independently. There are solutions and suggestions which those who use notebooks for more than a couple hours everyday will find very useful and comfortable. Adding a full-size plug-in or wireless laptop keyboard and mouse, for example, will allow you to position the keyboard more comfortably, such as on a separate keyboard tray while your notebook remains on the desk surface.
Ergonomic positioning of notebook computers. Keeping your body in "neutral posture" means keeping your body's joints in a mid-range of motion while working at your computer workstation. When your arms are relaxed at your sides and not reaching they are in neutral posture. Wrists that are kept straight and not bent down, up, or to either side, are also in neutral posture. Keeping all this in mind, let's look more closely at how to establish the most ergonomic position while working on your laptop.
Maintain a comfortable viewing distance from the screen.
Tilt the screen at an angle for easy viewing so you are not stretching or compacting your neck to view the screen.
Keep glare off screen to avoid eye strain.
Keep laptop keyboards at a height and angle that maintains your shoulders, arms and wrist in neutral position.
Optionally, place a separate, full-sized keyboard on an adjustable height, negative tilt keyboard tray so your shoulders can relax and arms rest easily at your side.
Position laptop keyboards directly in front and close to you to avoid excessive extended reaching.
Your mouse (one that is independent of the laptop) should be placed adjacent to the keyboard and at the same height. Avoid extended and elevated reaching for either the keyboard or mouse. Maintain the back of your wrist flat in a neutral position.
If you have a separate keyboard connected to your laptop, place it on a "negative tilt" keyboard tray (angled slightly back) in order to help keep wrists straight while typing.
For more detailed information on how to position and work productively with your notebook computer, check out the the following:
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