Mobile Computing

Mobile computing, whether on laptop, tablet or smartphone, requires special considerations. Please see below for tips on positioning and make frequent positional changes.

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Ideal Laptop Positioning

laptop

Ideal Laptop Positioning:

  • If you are working on a laptop for more than two hours per day, then use a separate keyboard and mouse
  • Raise your chair and use a footrest
  • Position keyboard and mouse below elbow level
  • Raise screen: top line of text at eye level
  • Make frequent positional changes

Incorrect Laptop Positioning

laptop

The rotating picture above demonstrates examples of poor laptop positioning compared to correct positioning, if using the laptop more than two hours per day.

Risks:

  • Shoulder flexion (reaching forward) increases the load on the shoulder and neck musculature
  • Wrist contact pressure increases the risk of carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Neck flexion (looking down at screen) increases strain on the neck and shoulder musculature

Fix It:

  • Use external keyboard and mouse (position below elbow level). If you can’t raise your chair then consider using a platform (e.g. laptop pillow) for your keyboard and mouse on your lap with your screen raised such that the top line of text is at approximately eye level
  • Use external keyboard and mouse if working at laptop for more than two hours per day
  • More info on risks with laptop work (pdf)

Tablet

Tablets pose a similar risk as laptops to users. Positioning the screen low is more comfortable for your hands but harder on your neck, while positioning the screen high is more comfortable for your neck but harder on your hands. Additional concerns include an awkward wrist posture with sustained holding of tablet and decreased typing speed with the on-screen keyboard.

Tablet Solutions:

In general, avoid sustained holding of tablet, instead position it on a pillow or tabletop. Vary the height of your tablet according to the type of work you are doing:

  • If you’re primarily viewing the screen (minimal typing or mousing), raise your tablet, support it on an external device and avoid sustained holding of tablet.
  • If you need to type/mouse then position the tablet on a pillow on your lap, avoid sustained holding of tablet and be aware of your wrist position while typing: minimize wrist extension.
  • Use voice to text options when possible.
  • Make frequent positional changes.
  • If you are working for more than two hours on your tablet, then use an external keyboard and mouse.

Smartphone

Whether you hold your smartphone in your dominant or non-dominant hand, most of us tend to do so with our wrist in ulnar deviation (wrist bent toward the pinky finger) which causes strain in the wrist and hand. Be aware of this: vary your position, support your smartphone on your bag or your lap, alternate hands, rest it in your palm or use both hands. Also be aware of over reliance on your thumb when texting, vary your posture or digits involved and/or use voice to text when possible.

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