THE BLOG

My Computer Was Slowly Killing Me

I've been traveling the world continuously for a few years now, and I set up a non-traditional work station wherever I am. It can be in the kitchen of our new digs, in the din of a chaotic café in Medellin, in a bustling pub in Whangarei or even on a beach.
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Laptops were never meant to be used like most of us are using them - like a desktop workstation. Sometimes I sit at my computer for more than 6 hours a day and I know many of you hardly leave your computer's side.

I've been traveling the world continuously for a few years now, and I set up a non-traditional work station wherever I am. It can be in the kitchen of our new digs, in the din of a chaotic café in Medellin, in a bustling pub in Whangarei or even on a beach.

I've suffered back strain, tense shoulders and very sore wrists from working with my laptop literally on my lap. When I work at a high table, my shoulders are hunched, forcing my arms to reach upward and my wrists to bend unnaturally to reach the keyboard. If I work at a lower table, my head and neck crane forward to view the screen. There is no way to properly position myself if I am using only a laptop.

Enter the Roost, foldable laptop stand: an incredibly precise, light (0.38 pounds) and compact (1.2" x 1.3" x 13") piece of carbon fiber engineered travel gear. It saves me from being killed by my computer. This portable laptop holder sets the screen at the correct eye level. It tidily fits into a case (also sold by Roost) that accommodates a bluetooth keyboard, mouse and all my cables. I can now work pain free and happy.

The stand is quite a conversation piece on the road, with its nifty, sleek, techie design. People who see it immediately understand the need to have one if they work solely on a laptop. They notice how the stand emulates a more ergonomically correct desktop setup. The ten seconds it takes to set up a comfortable laptop workstation while traveling is the best ten seconds you'll spend in any destination.

Here are the important body adjustments that this computer stand makes to combat my laptop that's seems intent on destroying my body:

  • Computer screen is adjusted to eye level. No hunching my back and neck forward to read the screen.
  • Shoulders are kept back and down rather than unnaturally forward and upward.
  • Arms now rest comfortably at the side of my body.
  • My arms make a 90 degree angle with the keyboard.
  • Wrists lie flat.

Once my computer station is set up and adjusted for pain free and ergonomically correct laptop'ing, I add some exercises for my recovering body:

  • I stand rather than sit and shift my weight back and forth. The Roost can be placed on a high counter once in a while, and used standing up. Some scientists believe that it's healthy to use your computer while standing.
  • I pull my head forward, roll and twist it from side to side.
  • I extend my arms parallel to the floor and twist my shoulders and arms forward and backward together.
  • I place a ball under my glut muscles, one at a time and ease into it until the pain lessens.
  • I do a partial leg squat and alternate raising my heels off the floor.
  • I roll a tennis or golf ball under my feet.
  • I place a book under the ball of the foot and, standing, sink my heels back to the floor.

Okay, maybe it's not exactly "paleo," but using the Roost stand, and adding a few exercises while I work, helps to maintain my health in spite of having to use my laptop.