Students beware: Heavy laptop usage leads to bad posture, physical pain

Students beware: Heavy laptop usage leads to bad posture, physical pain

Summary: Feel like a slave to your laptop? That "addiction" can hurt you in ways beyond affecting your social life.

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Feel like a slave to your laptop? That "addiction" can hurt you in ways beyond affecting your social life. According to a new report from the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, heavy use of a notebook computer can lead to any number of physical ailments, including headaches, muscle soreness in your neck and back, and -- no surprise here -- carpal tunnel syndrome.

The researchers suggest that because laptops are built with unified body construction, users are left with few ways to work with them that would reduce the risk of long-term physical pain. Hunching down to see your screen can lead to bad posture, and nerve damage to your wrists can come from awkward placement of your hands while typing on cramped keyboards. (Of course, plenty of people get carpal tunnel syndrome using desktop keyboards as well.)

Students heading off to college, laptop in tow, can be particularly susceptible to these injuries while using their computer for hours on end. The UNC researchers offer several recommendations to minimize the potential damage. Some require an outlay that may not fit in your budget -- an adjustable chair with back support (i.e., not the desk chair found standard in a dorm room), a docking station and external monitor to give you a bigger view of your work while you're at your desk -- but there are also some no-cost tips. For instance, take breaks every 20 minutes while working to shift your body position and stretch your muscles. You should also drink plenty of water, which, among many other benefits, keeps the discs in your back sufficiently lubricated.

Any other tips to combat "laptop fatigue syndrome" (my term not theirs)? Let us know in the Comments section.

[Via MSN Health & Fitness]

Topics: Hardware, Laptops, Mobility

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15 comments
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  • RE: Students beware: Heavy laptop usage leads to bad posture, physical pain

    But it's "the next big thing"! Desktops are "dead"!!!!!!

    This, my friend, is why desktops with full size keyboards aren't gonna die.

    Buy a Microsoft Natural and use it when you're at home.
    CobraA1
    • RE: Students beware: Heavy laptop usage leads to bad posture, physical pain

      @CobraA1
      except that you can sit at your desk with your laptop and use all external devices just like a desktop, then still unplug it and take it on the go when needed... the only things desktops have on Laptops are a lot of space for extra cooling and more power for higher end hardware.
      doh123
      • The only things desktops have on Laptops...

        @doh123
        You forgot to add: cheaper upgrades, HUGELY better upgrade path (there's nothing you CAN'T upgrade in a desktop vs only RAM / HDD in a laptop), far superior performance, far better cost vs speed, far less stealable, and if you spill your coffee on your desktop keyboard, it's $15 for a new keyboard, not time for a whole new computer... Yes, laptops have their inescapable uses, but they are FAR from better than even a modest desktop. :P
        naibeeru
    • RE: Students beware: Heavy laptop usage leads to bad posture, physical pain

      @CobraA1

      I bought one of those Microsoft ergonomic keyboards. I found it WORSE than my other keyboards. Why? Because although it provided a nice keyboard angle, the touch on the keys was awful: it required a high impulse to be sure of a single key closure, and that high impulse actually feeds a lot of momentum BACK into the hands. But that is what does the damage.

      I still have the keyboard, but I never use it.
      mejohnsn
  • RE: Students beware: Heavy laptop usage leads to bad posture, physical pain

    This has been going on for years, since computers were invented. Its been happening for years with just regular PCs. Now with tablets coming out the number of incidents/injuries will increase ten fold. Just look at the way Steve Jobs was holding it during the first press conference. Bad posture all the way because the device its awkward to hold. Your either hunched over the table or your hunched over in your chair.

    My advice? Get off your butt and exercise! Do some core exercises to work the chest and back and make it stronger.
    Loverock Davidson
  • 2 Words

    Docking station!! I use a docking station at my desk with an external keyboard/mouse and have a 23" monitor set up for dual monitor use when docked. Saves the eyes and back.
    Scubajrr
  • As with everything else, there is a "right way" to use it ...

    ... and a "wrong way". Ergonomics weight into the proper use of just about any product which leads one to stay in one physical position for extended periods of time. Ignore those ergonomics and you are going to have trouble.
    M Wagner
  • RE: Students beware: Heavy laptop usage leads to bad posture, physical pain

    I aggree with Loverock Davidson ,
    " Get off your butt and exercise"
    ... my whole family is on a laptop everyday and none of us exercise.

    BTW the desktop IS DEAD.

    We never had a need for 4 desktops to accomadate my family... but we do have 4 laptops and if we had any relatives over... we could use more.

    Laptops are awkward, you can't install better hardware easily, they get hot.
    But quess what?
    They are portable, they come crammed with everything 98% of users could possibly use and then some, they are cheap... and you can use them at the pool while you are drinking a beer.

    I dont think I have ever seen anyone drag thier desktop outside to relax while they do some work .

    LONG LIVE THE LAPTOP!
    Liv&DieN LA
    • RE: Students beware: Heavy laptop usage leads to bad posture, physical pain

      @Liv&DieN LA

      You must be new here. You don't know the cardinal rule of ZDNet talkbacks: never, EVER agree with Loverock Davidson;)

      Seriously: exercise is important, and not just for this. But by no means is it enough to avoid injury. We must take breaks and observe good posture too.
      mejohnsn
  • Easy solutions to not-that-big of a problem

    There are a multitude of exercises one can do to strengthen the back and reverse the effects of excessive laptop use.

    Students could also use something like the posturenow brace, which you can get at www.posturenow.com . It can help 'train' you to keep your shoulders back and your posture upright.

    OR:

    Get a docking station and learn about correct ergonomic sitting position!!!!
    lairdgrainger
  • It's not the laptop causing the problems...

    It's what's on the screen. Can also cause poor eyesight and wrist pain... ;)
    Carrion
    • RE: Students beware: Heavy laptop usage leads to bad posture, physical pain

      @Carrion

      ;-]
      The Breeze
  • Mayo Clinic has a healthy option for this

    I use a FitDesk when I am on a laptop. These new exercise while you laptop and/ or game work wonders for your health. By using the laptop and all its wonders to motivate you to get on an exercise device- daily movement becomes the norm and problems are solved. In short you end up exercising more because you spend more time on you computer. That's easy. See Mayo Clinic study by Dr. James Levine MD.
    I got my FitDesk on amazon.com and am on it now while I type this.
    shytrex
  • RE: Students beware: Heavy laptop usage leads to bad posture, physical pain

    yeah, I don't wanna but I have to work for at least 8 hours.
    ailala
  • Internet addiction

    Computer or Internet addiction both are very much bad for the health of the children who are addicted to it. Internet addiction is now a days very common and symptoms of this addiction are also very common. If you find any of the symptoms like stress or depression, anxiety concern your doctor.
    http://www.controllingaddiction.net/articles/internet-addiction
    ved123