Attention office dwellers—if you’re experiencing wrist and back aches, it may be the way you’re toting your laptop.
While laptops seem like a lightweight piece of technology, they are a common source of chronic pain for many folks who work in an office. And according to ergonomic experts, the effects of improperly carrying a laptop add up over time.
While there are many ways to transport your tech, here’s how the experts recommend carrying a laptop instead.
Use A Laptop-Specific Backpack
Using a backpack isn’t just a chic way to transport your laptop. Patrick Maloney, lead athletic trainer at Tulane Institute of Sports Medicine in New Orleans, says it’s the best way to carry your laptop long distances.
While any backpack is better than nothing, it’s important to consider the ergonomics of the bag you use. Laptop-specific backpacks ensure even distribution of weight across your body, while also doing an excellent job of protecting your tech.
“Generally, the backpack or tote used for carrying should not exceed 10% of the individual’s body weight,” said Nathaniel Chung, campus ergonomist for the University Health Services at the University of California, Berkeley. “This is especially important for children whose growth and development can be negatively impacted by excessive carrying weight.”
Essentially, if you’re 150 pounds, your bookbag should not exceed 15 pounds. Wearing a backpack on both shoulders is best for carrying a laptop over long distances, rather than using a one-shouldered tote bag.
“Backpacks should be worn with both straps. Single shoulder strap use can cause back musculoskeletal issues, most notably scoliosis in developing children,” Chung added.
Can’t Give Up A Tote Bag? Switch Carrying Shoulders Often
Stylistically, experts understand backpacks aren’t for everyone. While experts agree backpacks are best, they recommend switching carrying shoulders if a tote bag is your groove.
“In the case of a single strap accessory such as a tote or handbag, wearing the strap across the opposite shoulder, if possible, can help distribute the weight,” Chung recommended. “Carry it on your right and then carry it on your left, either every other day or when you know you’re getting tired with one arm,” he continued.
Avoid “Balancing” Your Laptop On One Hand While Carrying Short Distances
While the balancing act may seem more efficient, this is the worst way to lug your laptop.
According to Maloney, “Laptops are getting lighter and lighter. But still, that’s like three or four pounds of levered weight on your wrist.”
“And so that can lead to a common condition called the de Quervain’s syndrome. And it’s basically like a tendinitis on the wrist,” he explained.
While a laptop may seem lightweight, balancing them on one hand adds an extreme amount of pressure on wrist joints.
“If you’re working for eight hours a day, and you’re in between meetings carrying your laptop around, that’s a lot of steps that you’re doing holding the laptop in your wrist,” Maloney said.
The ideal fix? Simply close your laptop and tuck it under your arm, as if carrying a book.
Minor adjustments in how you carry your laptop may not seem like a big deal in the short term. But in the long run, your body will notice and thank you.