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Laptop and Briefcase Ergonomics; Pack it light, Wear it right

Here at the Isis Chiropractic Centres we often see patients who have problems that are aggravated by working on laptops and carrying heavy work bags and carrying them the wrong way.

When you have a heavy workload it is easy to find yourself carrying a lot of weight back and forth to work. However, heavy laptop bags or briefcases can take their toll on your back, neck and shoulders.

Another common side effect of this is poor posture as an over loaded bag, or one that is carried improperly, can cause the you to lean to one side.

We hope that this information will help you make some changes to help you cope better with your day to day activities.

Here are some simple strategies to prevent injury while travelling with work related items

Choosing the right bag:

  • Select a bag made of lightweight material such as vinyl or canvas instead of leather. Leather looks and wears nicely but it comes with a price in more ways than one.
  • Choose a bag with wheels to help you take the load off your spine.
  • Backpack style laptop bags with wide, adjustable and padded straps are an excellent option because they distribute the weight evenly.
  • Bags with a single shoulder strap are not ideal. However, if you choose this option, ensure the strap is long, wide, adjustable and padded if possible. Ensure that the straps
  • do not fit too snugly. Poorly designed shoulder straps can dig deep into muscles causing strain and pinched nerves.

Packing your bag:

  • Reducing the weight you need to carry is important in avoiding injury. Take time to check your bag or briefcase each day and remove items that you do not need.
  • Your laptop can be a heavy load to carry all by itself. Now add the AC cord, spare battery, mouse and other accessories, your back and shoulders bear the brunt.
  • Consider purchasing an extra set of accessories to leave at the office so you do not have to carry them back and forth. Work on the go such as on a bus or train presents the problem of carrying these tools with you and should be kept to a minimum if at all possible.
  • Always pack the heaviest items at the bottom of your bag and make use of pockets to distribute weight evenly over the bag.

Carrying your bag:

  • If you choose not to use a bag with wheels, wearing your bag correctly is an absolute must.
  • When using a backpack style case, use both shoulder straps and the waist strap and adjust them to minimise movement of the bag.
  • If you have single strap bags, place the strap over your head and across the shoulders to distribute the weight more evenly across your back.

Other tips:

  • Try to maintain good posture. When standing, your head, shoulders, hips and ankles should line up, one comfortably above the other. Your knees should be slightly bent and your feet should be shoulder-width apart or more. For good posture, try to flatten your back against a wall or chair. Roll your shoulders back and down and slowly pull your head and chin back.
  • Exercise can help prevent injury. Regular exercise such as walking, swimming or cycling will help the body stay conditioned. Stretching before and after activities will help reduce muscle strain.
  • Specific chiropractic strengthening exercises for the back and abdominal, or core area, will help promote good posture, condition muscles and prevent injury.


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