Healthy and Beauty by Physio & Therapies: Flexible friends can carry a cost to your health

Take care when using your laptop
Take care when using your laptop

Laptops have made us be able to work more flexibly and be more mobile, but they have been blamed for causing work-related back, neck and shoulder problems as well as headaches.

In 2010 to 2011, there were nearly 200,000 cases of Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) according to the Health and Safety Executive.

The increasing popularity of laptops may be a factor in the problem, once they were only used by busy business people who had to work on planes or trains, but thanks to lower prices, the rise in home working and wireless internet access, laptops are everywhere.

Currently about nine per cent of the workforce spend a significant amount of their time working from home and this is on the rise.

Coupled with this is the explosion of social media, meaning that more of our leisure time is spent on a computer leaving us vulnerable to long periods of poor posture.

Every week I see many people with neck, back, headaches and shoulder problems caused by excessive laptop use, and the numbers are rising.

Bad posture at a laptop is almost inevitable because of the way laptops are designed. The main problem is the keyboard being attached to the screen as this causes you to hunch over the desk with your head in a forward position.

This loads the spine and strains the muscles, causing pain and stiffness.

Also, as the keyboard is smaller than a regular keyboard, your arms are often at a strange angle, with your wrists twisted inwards.

This increases the compression at your wrist causing problems like Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. All these problems are amplified when using a laptop on your knees, with the added risk of “toasted knee syndrome” where the heat from the laptop can damage the skin on your legs, with temperatures rising to 52 degrees Celsius.

Remember laptops are fine when used properly. There are plenty of ways you can make your laptop safer and more comfortable.