It will probably not come as a shock to you that one of the major causes of damage to your spine (and your health) is sitting for 8 hours per day 5-6 days per week. A good desk set-up and spinal hygiene is essential to minimise the risk.With more of us being able to work from home or on the move, taking responsibility for our own ergonomics has never been more important.
Here are some tips to help you minimise the postural stress caused by desk work:
1) Connect with a more ergonomic you
Don't keep on looking down at a small screen! Optimise your workspace!
External Monitor (VGA)
On the link above is a good sized VGA monitor 21.6 inches at a reasonable price. Although it does not have the latest HDMI connection (which is capable of transmitting high resolution images and sound) it is more likely to be compatible with your laptop/netbook as many do not have this HDMI technology connection.
If you have HDMI on your laptop THIS is a good monitor to use (the 22" model)
If you're not sure about whether you have HDMI or VGA have a look at this guide and then purchase one as needed at a length that is practical for you.VGA Cable
HDMI Cable (newer laptops to newer monitors)
Making a connection -
Here is a guide here on this process of connecting it up.
The added bonus of this set up is that you will now be able to "Dual Monitor" - This may remind you of the movie 'The Matrix' with the wall of screens. However, you do not need to be an underground computer hacker to experience the benefits of "Dual Monitor'-ing. This will greatly enhance your productivity as you will have twice as much space to work with and you can drag items from one screen onto the other to aid multitasking. Here is a guide on how to do that.
2) Bring Your Computer Ergonomics Up a Level
The added benefit of a laptop riser is that your laptop will also be raised off the desk to improve airflow preventing your laptop overheating and extending its life!
If you also want to preserve the life of your laptop, place a dust cover over the laptop/netbook keyboard that you aren't using. It will ensure dust doesn't get into the keyboard and hence the computer, damaging it over time. I am not able to recommend one in particular as netbooks/laptops are extremely variable but just 'google it'!
3) Get the Tech, Lose the AchesConnect to an external keyboard and mouse.
A keyboard and mouse either wireless or with wires (USB) will be perfect for making sure that the distance between the screen and yourself increases and that your work space isn't becoming cramped.
Wireless keyboard and mouse combo
The major benefit of wireless is that you can easily move the keyboard and mouse to make you more comfortable.
Be careful not to be tempted to try to save a few pounds by getting a cheaper model. Often the models on the lower end are terrible with batteries! You could end up spending up to an extra £10 a month simply on batteries for them! It's worthwhile looking for models which mention “3 year battery lives” etc. Although they may initially seem more expensive they can be a more cost effective long-term.
Wired keyboard and mouse combo
Microsoft provide high quality office devices which have proven the test
Make sure you are sitting upright with your shoulder blades placed near to your spine and your elbows next to you. You will find the need to pull your chair closer to your desk and the keyboard closer to you. In this position your chest is open and the back relaxed. Avoid reaching forward.
Additionally, make sure that you are keeping all items in neutral positions to avoid your body straining. Your keyboard should be in parallel with the middle of your monitor. The mouse should be outside your shoulder width on either the left or the right. The top of your monitor should be close to eye level. Adjust the monitor higher or low accordingly however make sure your feet are touching the ground. Also don’t forget to take regular breaks!
If you are contorting your body in way that wouldn't please your chiropractor then re-think your posture!
Happy Home Ergonmics-ing!
Nash Anderson (Doctor of Chiropractic) @Farnham Chiropractic Wellness
P.S. If you have any questions, or want to see how your situation/posture might be improved feel free to get in touch!