Steps to Correct Laptop Posture

Dr Timothy Lim

5 Mar, 2020

If you are working from home or office on your laptops, it might help to know that poor desktop ergonomics can cause neck and shoulder pain. In this article and video, we show you:

 ► Why poor laptop posture hurts you?
 ► How to know if your laptop is placed too high?
 ► What to change when the laptop is too high?
 ► Tips to improve laptop usage ergonomics

Step 1: Determine if Your Table/Chair Combination is Too High. 

Most of you will find yourself using a table of fixed height, such as a dining table. Unless you are incredibly tall, you will find the table is either just right or most often too high for you. How will you know if your laptop is too high? Begin by sitting upright with a slight arch in your lower back and both feet on the floor. Then place your forearm on the keyboard of your laptop.

If your table is too high, you will end up shrugging your shoulders up to compensate to reach for the laptop keyboard. Ideally, you want your elbows at your sides of your body. Your forearms should be at least parallel to the floor or slightly lower. So what do you do if your table is too high for you? Go to Step 2 below.

Step 2: Adjust the Height of the Chair.

To correct for a table that is too high for you, you can either raise the height of your chair (for adjustable chairs) or add cushions to add height (for non-adjustable chairs). You want the chair high enough, so you don't have to shrug your shoulders while you type. Be creative. Use cushions or pillows to achieve the ideal height. To prevent neck pain from looking down on the screen for prolonged hours, I highly recommend proceeding to Step 3 to adjust your laptop height.

Step 3: Adjust the height of the laptop.

So how do you know your laptop is at the correct height? You should now know the best sitting posture described above. Your back is straight, your elbows comfortably rest by your side, your shoulders relax, you are now ready to adjust the height of your laptop. (If you are a visual learner, skip to the video below where I show you how I would adapt a laptop height to your correct height.)

Now don't look down at your laptop. Instead, look straight ahead in front of you. Imagine for a moment you are superman with laser beams shooting continuously from your eyes. The angle of the laser beams should be parallel to the floor. Now get some books or boxes ready to raise your laptop. How high do you need to go?

You need to raise the laptop so that the imaginary laser beams hit the top of the screen. For the best results, I recommend you aim for the MIDDLE of the screen. That way, you can keep your neck in a neutral, upright posture while your eyes scan up or down the laptop screen.

At this point, you may wonder if you should type on the laptop keyboard or use an external keyboard? I would certainly suggest using an external keyboard to type to keep your arms at your sides. That’s it.

Troubleshooting Laptop Posture

The above ergonomic suggestion is for the average person who uses the laptop for long hours. For some, making the above changes can improve your neck or back discomfort. But for some, it may be worse off because you may have some pre-existing condition that needs correction. Also, despite the best posture efforts, research shows prolonged sitting is quite stressful on your spinal discs. Hence, I recommend taking short breaks at least every hour to stretch, do squats, perform cross crawls.

Watch the video below.

Steps to Correct Laptop Posture