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Ergonomics - Laptops, Tablets and Smartphones

Posted on August 23rd, 2013 by Emily


In the last of our blog posts this week, we’ll discover how you can make mobile computing more comfortable.


Our use of IT is changing drastically. In 2012, almost 25% of all computers sold were tablets or slates. However, ergonomics still need to be considered when using these devices, and often are not. Many people spend hours a day with their necks at about a 45 degree angle, staring into a mobile or tablet screen, or slouched over a laptop.
Excessive use of laptops, tablets and smartphones without consideration for ergonomics can cause RSI, back, neck and shoulder problems. Luckily, though there are some things you can do to make your use of mobile IT far more comfortable.

  • Laptops

Where possible, it is advised that you use a laptop on a desk or other flat surface where you can be seated correctly. Laptop supports or laptop trays are also another option, and allow you to use your laptop from an armchair or similar relaxed seated position. It’s advised that you make sure there’s adequate support for your arms while using laptops, and that your arms and hands are as close to the neutral position as possible when typing.
It is not advisable to use a laptop directly on your lap or in any other way that can block the air vents, such as on a cushion. Doing so can lead to heat injury to you or damage to the laptop from overheating.

  • Tablets and Smartphones

Useful for working, browsing, emailing, and for many other tasks while away from the desk, tablets and smartphones have seen massive success and increasing sales in recent years. Stands for tablets are available, but as with other portable devices, the general advice is to take regular breaks, stop if there is any pain, and to use them at a comfortable angle to your body, for example as you would hold a book. If you need to use them for extended periods, find a sitting position that is comfortable for your whole body, and does not cause stress to any joints, muscles, bones or tendons.
There are support cushions made from memory foam, and other devices that are designed to provide a comfortable reading position that may be helpful when using tablets and smartphones.

One last piece of advice from those with experience – never hold a phone to your ear using your shoulder! Doing so can cause serious neck pain.

We hope that our foray into the world of ergonomics has been enlightening for you. We think you’ll agree that some of the statistics are astonishing, especially when it comes to lost work hour and lost productivity! If you need any further advice, feel free to contact us and we’ll see what we can do to help, or put you in contact with a specialist advisor.


At Geek Guru, we like to make our clients’ lives as pain-free as possible – At least when it comes to IT! If another computer headache is the last thing you need, get in touch with us.

For IT advice or information, or to see what we could do for your business, give us a call on 0845 234 0580 or email us at

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office chair

Ergonomics - Desktop PCs

Posted on August 21st, 2013 by Emily


In Monday’s blog, we covered the basics of office ergonomics, and the impact it can have on concentration and productivity. Today we’ll continue with a little more specific information for desktop PC users.


A high percentage of jobs now will involve use of a computer or other IT equipment, but not everyone knows how to sit correctly to avoid cramps, strains, aches, stiffness and other more long term problems. Ergonomic equipment is something we get asked about quite frequently, and we’ll cover some of the products you can get later in the article, but we’ll start off with some tips that can help you make the most of the furniture and accessories you already have.

Here’s a few pointers that could make your day a little bit more comfortable:

  • Sit in your chair properly! This might sound silly, but many people actually sit on the edge of their chair, and their back is unsupported by the backrest. Push yourself as far back into your chair as you can.
  • Don’t let your feet dangle. If sitting back in your chair means your feet are not touching the floor, don’t use the base of the chair as a footrest, as this can cause lower back, hip and knee problems. Instead, get a footrest and rest your feet at the correct angle in front of you comfortably.
  • Adjust your chair height. You should not have to reach up or down to your keyboard, as this puts unnecessary stress on the wrists, arms, shoulders and back. If your chair has armrests, adjust the height of it so that you can comfortably rest your elbows on them.
  • Set your chair back to a comfortable level. It should be between 100 and 110 degrees to correctly support your back and avoid pain. Try to avoid having it set too far back.
  • Adjust your monitor height and position. The top portion of your screen should be at eye level, and the monitor should be directly in front of you. Having to look up or down or turn your head constantly to view a screen can cause neck problems and headaches.
  • Position your keyboard and mouse correctly. Your keyboard should not be so far away from you that you have to reach to type. It should be close enough to comfortably type with relaxed arms. Bring the mouse in as close as possible so you are not forced to reach across the desk to navigate. Having your equipment too far away can cause stress to the wrists, arms, shoulders, and back. Make sure your equipment is centred to your body so that you don’t have to twist in order to type or use the mouse.
  • Use a wrist rest. These are designed to be used when not typing, make use of them and save the strain on your arms, wrists and hands.
  • Take frequent breaks. Get up, walk around, stretch out or follow some of the exercises detailed in this helpful set of printable postcards provided by the CSP.

If you experience pain while using a computer, stop and take a break. If the pain continues, consult a doctor or physiotherapist.

If you would like to read in more depth about how to sit correctly at a computer, a full guide can be found at:


Sometimes, if certain muscles are weak, there is an underlying injury, the person has a disability, or sitting at a computer is painful for any other reason such as bad posture, some extra help may be needed in order to make computer use safe and comfortable.

There are various things you can buy to support areas of the body while sitting at a desk. Here’s a few of the most popular:

Generally inexpensive, these allow for free airflow around your back while supporting the lumbar region of your back.

These make it difficult to slouch and so promote good posture. Keeping yourself centred on the ball also strengthens your core muscles. There’s one of these in our offices, it looks strange but apparently works quite well!

These look strange and uncomfortable but can help quite a bit with back problems for some people. They aren’t suited for everyone (especially those with bad knees), but those with problems in the coccyx or tailbone area have been known to benefit from these as they spread the weight over the buttocks and the knees.

Surprisingly uncommon given how cheap and easy to obtain they are, wrist rests come in many forms and can really help to take the strain off your wrists, arms, hands and shoulders when you are not typing. They help to prevent RSI because encouraging you to type with your wrists and hands in the correct neutral position, and giving you somewhere soft to rest your hands while not typing, instead of on a hard desk or keyboard edge. You can also get mouse pad versions of these.

Very useful for avoiding lumbar pain due to stress on the lower back muscles, and pain in the knees or ankles from keeping your legs crossed or hanging for an extended period. Foot rests encourage correct, flat positioning of the feet at a comfortable angle.

The humble cushion! Preferably made of firm foam or memory foam, these can be underestimated. They can be used wherever you feel you need support. Make sure to choose the right size and shape for your needs.


In Friday’s Blog, we’ll be taking a look at the ergonomics of mobile computing, and how you can make yourself more comfortable while using your laptop, tablet or smartphone.

For IT advice or information, or to see what we could do for your business, give us a call on 0845 234 0580 or email us at

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Ergonomics - Are You Sitting Comfortably?

Posted on August 19th, 2013 by Emily


Many people who use IT for prolonged periods for work or leisure will, at some point, suffer from some kind of musculoskeletal problem, caused by lack of consideration for ergonomics and posture, either at their workplace or at home.


At the Geek Guru offices, we’ve experienced these problems just like anyone else, and we’ve had the opportunity to try out some devices and methods of solving them. While we don’t sell them, it is something that we find our clients ask about fairly frequently. We find ourselves recommending ideas, methods and products that might help them. So, we thought, why not put together some information about the causes, effects and solutions we’ve found based on our experiences and knowledge? We’re not healthcare professionals, but we do have quite a bit of experience of what it’s like to sit at a computer for a long time!

It’s something that a lot of people may not think about, but good ergonomics is something that can have a drastically positive impact on mood, focus, performance and productivity.

There’s a whole spectrum of musculoskeletal problems that can arise from poor ergonomics coupled with prolonged use of IT equipment.

All IT usage should be considered when it comes to ergonomics and health. Using a laptop or mobile device makes you just as susceptible to these problems as someone else, if not more so sometimes, as people have a tendency to slouch over a laptop or spend large amounts of time with their heads held looking down at a mobile or tablet screen – which is a lot of people when you consider that tablets and slates accounted for almost a quarter of computer sales in 2012.

Back, neck and shoulder problems are some of the most commonly reported problems, followed by arm and hand problems. RSI (or repetitive strain injury) is more common than many people realise, and is costing employers more than £20 billion in lost work time every year.

Here’s a few statistics to put this in perspective:

  • 55% of UK work-related illnesses are musculoskeletal disorders.
  • 4.7 Million work days are lost each year due to RSI-related problems.
  • More than 448,000 British workers surer from RSI.
  • 1 in 3 regular computer users may have symptoms of RSI.
  • 6 people leave their jobs each day due to a musculoskeletal disorder.


Of course, there are many products you can buy to improve your posture or reduce pressure on certain areas of your body, but there are many simple steps that you can take to make your workplace more comfortable.

This set of printable postcards from the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy is a good place to start for an instant improvement. It includes a set of exercises you can use in order to stretch out aching muscles or joints.


If this has piqued your interest, check out the rest of our posts this week where we’ll be going into a bit more depth on ergonomics for desktop and mobile computing, and explaining some of the things you can do to make yourself and your colleagues or employees more comfortable at work.

For IT advice or information, or to see what we could do for your business, give us a call on 0845 234 0580 or email us at

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