The modern man or woman today is more married to their laptop than to their spouse. Jokes apart, people do spend an enormous amount of time with their laptops and usually in awkward postures. When laptops were invented they were meant to differentiate a portable class of PC from desktops and hence got termed laptops. But the term laptop is really a misnomer. The laptop is not really meant to be used on the lap for a variety of reasons.
Let’s look at the statistics of laptop users. As per a survey conducted online across 25 countries from North America, Europe, South America and the Asia Pacific that covered 8856 employed adults showed that 85% of Indians currently have and use a laptop (fourth highest in the world after Denmark (89%), Austria (86%) and Norway (86%). Indians also ranked second highest in carrying laptops with them on leisure trips after UAE.
Let me emphasize- It’s a Misnomer- the laptop must not be used in the lap. From a health perspective using the laptop on the lap gives rise to a lot of neck and back pain. As a spine physiotherapist, while determining the cause of neck and low back pain, invariably one of the reasons ends up being either excessive use of or incorrect use of the laptop. Yet most laptop users seem to be completely oblivious to this fact. Either they are in a low sofa/chair with the laptop on the lap for hours, or on the bed with legs stretched out in front. Both ways create a lot of unnecessary strain to the spine that can be easily rectified with a little awareness.
Let’s visualize this ‘laptop in lap’ sitting-on-chair posture for a minute. Since the laptop is low on the lap, your knees come up higher to support it. This causes an excessive slouching in the lower back causing the spinal discs and muscles to undergo a lot of strain. The longer you stay in that position, the higher the strain gets. The muscles may eventually fatigue leading to excessive pressure on spinal discs allowing them to herniate or prolapse. This is a medical term where the discs now are no longer in their position– now causing pressure on nerves arising from the spine. This leads to back pain and even sciatica. Something similar happens to the neck while you are looking down at the laptop. The second posture of sitting on the bed with your legs outstretched in front with the laptop in the lap may be even worse than sitting on a chair. Not only is your neck and back in excessive bending/slouching position; but since the legs are outstretched the nerves that run down the legs are also in undue pressure.
Using the laptop on the lap creates not only these musculoskeletal issues of neck and back pain but also other problems such as skin disorders, infertility, certain cancers and much more. But it’s not like the computer manufacturers don’t warn us. If you take the time to look in your manual, you might find a warning that says “Do not place on lap”. So do your health a favour and start using the laptop in more ergonomic ways rather than using it on the lap.