Laptops are designed to be convenient and portable. But using them can take a toll on your body, causing pain in your neck and back. A different laptop setup might help you feel better. Here are 10 ideas to get you started.

Practicing good posture and ergonomics while using a laptop can help prevent neck and back pain. Watch Video: 6 Tips to Improve Posture While Sitting

1. Take the laptop off your lap

Even though it’s called a laptop, you may not want to use it while it’s on top of your lap. This position often requires you to slouch down and jut your head forward to see the screen, loading your cervical spine with dozens of extra pounds of pressure. If you do need to work without a desk—while on a train, for example—try propping the laptop on your computer bag or briefcase to elevate the screen.

See How Poor Posture Causes Neck Pain

2. Raise the screen higher

The ideal laptop height and angle lets you view the screen easily without bending or rotating your neck. Elevate the laptop a few inches above your desk, placing it on a stable support surface, such as a laptop stand or a stack of thick books. Your eyes should naturally hit the top third of your screen when you look straight ahead.

See Office Chair, Posture, and Driving Ergonomics

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3. Use a separate keyboard and mouse

When you work on a laptop for an extended period of time, use an external keyboard and mouse rather than the ones that are built into your laptop. Position the keyboard at a height that allows your shoulders and arms to relax. Your elbows should be bent at a 90-degree angle and tucked close to your body when typing. This posture helps keep you from rounding your shoulders and pulling your neck muscles.

See Posture to Straighten Your Back

4. Recline slightly

If you don’t want to use a separate keyboard and mouse, you can instead use a chair that allows you to recline slightly. This will allow you to position the laptop in a way that puts the least amount of strain on your neck. Lightly angle the screen upward so you can view it without having to bend your neck too far down. Make sure your lower back is supported too.

See Office Chair: How to Reduce Back Pain?

5. Upgrade screen size

Get a laptop with the largest screen possible for your needs so you can avoid straining to see the text on a small screen. If you find yourself hunching forward to read from your screen, you can also increase the font size.

6. Put your feet up

If you have to raise your chair to position your arms and wrists comfortably, check to see how your legs are angled. Your feet should be flat on the floor, and your knees should be at an even height with your hips. If your hips are too high or your feet don’t reach the floor, use a footrest to prop them up. Raising your feet can help keep you from straining your lower back.

Watch: Video: 5 Overlooked Tips to Protect Your Lower Back

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7. Find an ergonomic chair

The type of chair you sit in while using your laptop is critical. Any office chair that is fully adjustable and has lumbar support will work, but you need to be sure to set it up correctly. Keep your head flush against the headrest of the chair to practice good neck posture.

See Choosing the Right Ergonomic Office Chair

8. Take breaks

Set a reminder on your phone to take a brief break every half hour. Get your eyes off the screen and let them rest on something in the distance. You can do simple stretches at your desk, such as stretching your neck, shoulders, arms, and legs. Every one or two hours, leave your desk to walk around to get your blood flowing and muscles loose.

See Neck Stretches

9. Stand up

Try to spend an hour or two each day using your laptop while standing rather than sitting in a chair. You will need a separate keyboard and mouse and a multilevel setup to do this without straining your neck. Standing desks are popular options. Desktop converters enable you to keep your desk and temporarily convert it to a standup desk.

See Workplace Ergonomics and Neck Pain

10. Travel light

If you typically lug your laptop between work and home, purchase a duplicate power cord and other laptop accessories—that way you can leave them in each place instead of carrying the extra load back and forth. You may also want to use a backpack with dual-padded shoulder straps and avoid draping the bag over just one shoulder. If your laptop and accessories feel too heavy, a roll-along carrier may be the best choice.

See 29 Best Travel Tips for Your Aching Back

Pay attention to how you set up your laptop. Careful consideration goes a long way to easing and preventing back and neck pain.

Learn more:

Ten Tips for Improving Posture and Ergonomics

Ergonomics of the Office and Workplace: An Overview

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