If you are someone that uses a laptop for moderate to long periods of time, you have definitely experienced discomfort / pain in your neck & shoulder, may be your lower back too & an obvious sense of not being comfortable while working!
There is a very good reason for this, only we need to stop and think about this, to make working more comfortable, more fun & more productive. It's important to stop those nagging aches & feel comfortable while trying to think.
The design of a laptop violates basic ergonomic needs for computer usage. The main problem is the screen and keyboard are attached, only any one of them can be set up in an optimal position. If the screen is at the right height, your keyboard is not and if the keyboard position is correct, the screen is too low. This means you either have poor hand / wrist posture or poor neck / head posture, you don't get good posture everywhere.
This has resulted in widespread complaints of musculoskeletal discomfort. Neck pain, low back pain, wrist & forearm pain, shoulder muscle tension, headaches etc are very commonly reported. Occasional users have a much lower risk of sustaining problems but occasional implies strictly occasional!
Consequently, laptops are not recommended for long periods of use, unless special attention is paid on how you use your laptop. Let's explore how we could improve your laptop set & reduce health risk.
Ergonomic Laptop Set Up using a Laptop Stand & Keyboard Tray
If you use your laptop at work as your main computer & tend to place it on your lap or the desk surface, this is too low and will invariably cause you to crane your neck downwards into the screen. This is a high risk posture for serious neck problems in the long term.
You should position the laptop on your desk / work surface in front of you, so that your screen is at eye level & you can see it without bending your neck. Taking care of the head-neck posture requires you to elevate the laptop using a Height Adjustable Laptop Stand.
Now use a separate keyboard & mouse & connect it to the back of your laptop or docking station. Preferably mount these on a Keyboard Tray with a Mouse area. It helps you to achieve keeping your elbows close to the body, staying relaxed in your shoulders and keeping the wrists from bending up or down, but staying horizontal- in the same line as the table.
A negatively sloped adjustable keyboard tray maximizes neutral hand, wrist and upper body postures. "- Professor Alan Hedge, Cornell University
In this way you are not compromising on your head-neck or wrist-hand posture & are able to achieve Ergonomic body alignment which is so important for long term laptop use.
On the lap definitely not, on the table-still too low, on a laptop stand with a Keyboard Tray is the best arrangement for a healthy work set up!