10 Ways to Set Up Your Laptop to Make Your Back Happier

November 15, 2019

A man is typing on his laptop
Jennifer Van Haitsma

Our back health is critical to our physical (and mental!) health. When we experience back issues, it can create other problems for us— sciatic nerve pain, weakened muscles from lack of activity, etc. 

It also affects us mentally! When we aren’t feeling our best physically, our emotional health takes a toll. It makes us feel hopeless, like we are missing out on all that life has to offer. 

The workplace is full of “bad back” practices. But, luckily, there are several life hacks you can integrate into your day to day routine that will minimize the strain on your back. You will definitely want to share these 10 ways to set up your laptop!

1- Do not put your laptop on your lap

I know what you’re thinking. It’s called a “laptop,” meaning it is intended for use on your lap. But, what the originators of that term did not take into account is the immense strain on your neck and back this creates. When you use your laptop on your lap, you naturally slouch so that you can see better. Posture is key for optimal back health. So, instead, keep it raised on a desk, or use some sort of platform to raise it higher on your lap. 

2- Raise the screen a little higher

This is going to be a lot better for your neck! If you need to, prop up your screen with a stack of books. That way you aren’t angling your neck downward to read the screen. Happier neck leads to a happier upper back and so forth. It is all connected! Check out this easy to use desk converter. It’s perfect for any work environment. 

3- Use a separate keyboard and mouse

This is something that a lot of people don’t think about, so it is a great life hack! Instead of using the keyboard and trackpad that come standard with your laptop, invest in a bluetooth keyboard and wireless mouse. I say “invest” because that is what they are: great investments for your posture!

4- Recline a bit when you’re working

It’s natural to lean forward when you’re working. That’s because many of us do not have our work stations set up in a way that is beneficial to back/neck health. I recommend reclining slightly in your chair and angling your screen accordingly. This is going to minimize a lot of strain on your neck. 

5- Get a bigger screen

This one is kind of tricky when you have a laptop. (It would typically involve replacing the laptop entirely, as the screen is not a separate component.) However, I believe it is a worthwhile expense. It will save you a lot of discomfort down the road, as you won’t be as prone to hunch forward trying to read smaller text. More life hacks:

See if your company will cover the cost of a replacement since it is for health reasons. (If you are currently being treated for neck/back issues, you can submit those records as proof.)

Save the receipt. You may be able to write off the expense on your taxes!

If all else fails, go to the settings on your laptop. You might be able to adjust the size of your text. (I could figure it out easily on my iPhone.)

6- Rest your feet on something

It’s more ideal for your lower back to have your feet touching the ground when you’re working. If your work space set-up is not conducive to this, I recommend the following:

Use a crate to prop up your feet

Get a chair with adjustable height settings

This is better for your lower back in the long run. 

 7- Get an ergonomic chair 

Speaking of chairs, get one that is as ergonomic as possible! This is ideal for lumbar support. That means that your body is in proper alignment, and the natural curve of your spine is supported. 

 8- Take frequent breaks

Not only is this good for your eyes, but it is good for your back too! Every 30 minutes or so, stand up, get a good stretch, and walk around for a couple minutes. This will help with optimal circulation after being seated for a while. It also gives your neck and back a break from any bad posture that took place while working. 

 9- Stand while working 

Experts recommend standing while working for at least an hour with a standing desk converter. (See tip #2 for a link to a great desk converter!) You can also prop up your computer with a stack of books. If you are really serious about back health, invest in a standing desk riser! This is becoming a trend in a lot of work places for a reason. Better to have tired feet than a strained back. 

 10- Travel light

Lots of times when we travel to and from work, we have to lug a lot of accessories with us. Keyboards, a mouse, power strips, power cords… Consider purchasing duplicates of these items. One to keep at home and one to keep at your office if you frequently bring your work home. These heavy bags put a strain on our back and shoulders, so do what you can to make them as light as possible. (Or get a rolling carrier!)

 Happy back, happy life!

 Like I said earlier, making some simple tweaks to your work environment has massive benefits for your health. Follow at least one of these 10 best ways to set up your laptop, and you will definitely notice a difference!

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