Neck pain? You may want to set up your laptop for long-term work-from-home

Gelo Gonzales
Neck pain? You may want to set up your laptop for long-term work-from-home
You need good ergonomics to make sure you avoid discomfort

We love our laptops at home. You can hop from one spot to another, within your living/work premises, just to keep things fresh. 

But for the long-term – and with no vaccine yet in sight for the coronavirus, that’s how it appears to be – you may want to rethink the way you use your laptop.

Traditionally, laptop use, for all its convenience, can be a literal pain to your neck or your wrists. You need a chair low enough that allows your eyes and the screen to be on the same level – a healthy position that keeps your neck straight and supported properly. But if you’re low, that means your wrist will be bent from the edge of the table, with the elbows dropping low – which, without having to be a doctor that can scientifically tell you that that’s bad, is plain uncomfortable. 

You need a few things to help your body stay in an optimal position.

Screen placement

For the screen placement, the cheapest option is a stack of books. Stack them high enough on your table to hit the proper level. Laptop stands are also available. Now, get a keyboard and a mouse. A good-enough pair should cost just between P300 to P500. 

One of the things we love about laptop keyboards is that they don’t move around. So when you buy a keyboard, try getting a solid, stable one or if you’re crafty, you’ll have to find an object that’ll keep it roughly in place. 

On the subject of chairs, I would advise getting one that’s big enough to cover the entire backside of your thighs. Having an office chair is going to go a long way in giving you that office feel at home. Personally, I like the wheeled chairs so you don’t feel so tethered, and one whose height is adjustable. Set the height to a level that your elbow can form a straight line to the wrist and the keyboard. 

Getting a monitor

For smaller laptops though – maybe those that are 14 inches and below – placing the laptop farther than usual can make the display and the objects displayed on it feel tiny. One option is to buy a separate monitor. For most office work, a 20- or 21-inch LCD screen will suffice, ranging from around P3,000 to P5,000. It comes down to a matter of taste, but bigger ones such as 24- and 27-inchers, may get tiring to navigate with your eyes over the course of the day – especially if your table isn’t especially big, and you can’t push back the monitor far back enough. 

Check for port compatibility, by the way, though most modern laptops and monitors will certainly have HDMI. 

And If you haven’t noticed it, good offices have good lighting. Throw in a lamp if you can, while you’re shopping for that monitor and keyboard, and help along your focus. 

Improving work ergonomics can help prevent those tiny aches that could build up as you continue to work from home.

Of course, poor ergonomics may only be one of the reasons for certain pains. If it’s something that persists, please go to your doctor. –

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Gelo Gonzales

Gelo Gonzales is Rappler’s technology editor. He covers consumer electronics, social media, emerging tech, and video games.