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Chiropractic Advice On How To Avoid Pain From Laptop Use

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Market Harborough based Chiropractor Dr Tracy Dixon continues her How to…. series of articles with How to avoid the aches and pains from using a laptop.

Once upon a time, many moons ago, computers were huge great cumbersome things that took up the whole room; nowadays they are tending to get smaller and smaller, and whether at home, at school or college, or at work, more and more of us are spending large parts of our day using a computer. And for many, this is largely a laptop as opposed to a desktop computer, or more commonly, a tablet computer such as the iPad (other tablet computers available!).

When sitting and concentrating on the screen for long periods of time, we may not be aware that the position we are in could be harmful to our spine. To help combat this, maintain a better ‘computer posture’, and protect our spines, I have the following advice to keep in mind when working, surfing, emailing, or social networking:

If using a laptop at your desk:
It is important that you have your workstation set up correctly; always take the time to adjust your chair, particularly if you share your computer or desk with others. Your seat should be adjusted so that your feet are flat on the ground (or use a footstool). Your knees should be bent and should sit lower than your hips, i.e. there should be a slight sloping downwards of your thighs; your eyes should be level with the top of your computer screen, without having to drop your head down.

chiropractor market harborough neck pain using laptopIn order to get your computer screen at the correct height, you may need to place it on a stand or a ream of paper. Obviously, when doing this with a laptop or tablet, this means that the keyboard would also be raised! It is therefore worth investing in a separate keyboard and mouse, that can be either plugged in or connected via Bluetooth to your device. This makes it much easier to use your chosen portable computer in a more ‘back-friendly’ manner. A separate keyboard is particularly of benefit with tablet computers, which otherwise have a totally flat screen on which to type. If this is then used in conjunction with a case that supports the tablet in an upright position, then your posture will be greatly improved whilst using your device. In my opinion, this is in preference to the tablet computer cases that have the in-built keyboard, as these do not always allow for you to separate the tablet from the keyboard in order to raise the screen to eye level.

When sitting in your chair, relax! Have your bottom against the back of the seat, with your shoulder blades touching the back rest of the chair. The height of your desk should be level with your forearms when your elbows are bent to 90 degrees. If you can, always use a chair with adjustable arm rests. Ensure you have enough leg room under the desk by removing any obstacles that may have been stored there!

If using a laptop around the home or out and about:
The portability of laptop or tablet computers makes them very convenient and flexible to use, but it is tempting to use them in situations where you might be in an awkward position, such as sitting on the floor, or lying on the sofa. You may not realise that you are in an uncomfortable or pain-inducing position if you are concentrating on what you are doing. chiropractor market harborough pain using laptopAgain, it is best to use a stand to bring the screen to eye level, and to use a separate keyboard and mouse. It may seem like a ‘bit of a faff’ and takes away from the convenience of the device, but it will help prevent you from developing a painful neck, shoulders or lower back in the future!

When on the move with your laptop, take time to check your bag or briefcase for items that you will not need. It is amazing how much unwanted ‘stuff’ quickly accumulates and the additional weight in your bag is extra weight for your shoulders to carry. Ideally, use a rucksack design laptop case, using both straps so as to evenly distribute the weight across both shoulders. Ensure to adjust the straps so that the bag is held close to your back.chiropractor market harborough laptop rucksack bag

But most importantly, whether at home, in the office, on a train, or in a meeting, take regular breaks! Never sit at the computer for more than 40 minutes at a time, preferably less – your joints are designed for movement! When you take a break, walk around and stretch a little; do something completely different. If you must use your laptop on a train, avoid doing it for too long, as you will be looking down onto the screen with your head unsupported.

If after following these tips you still sustain an injury of your muscles, bones or joints, chiropractic may have the answer. For a free initial screen with Dr Dixon DC, Chiropractor at Archway Chiropractic on Lubenham Hill (based at Archway House Natural Health Centre), please call 07794 311201 and mention this article. For more information, visit www.chiropractorinmarketharborough.co.uk.

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