Part one of a two-part article by Kathleen Hogan on the proper position for ergonomic computer use.

Ergonomics is the application of scientific information concerning humans to the design of objects, systems and the environment for human use. The term "ergonomics" is derived from two Greek words: "ergon", meaning work and "nomoi", meaning natural laws.

ergonomicsSo what does that mean for you and me? Simply put ergonomics helps us do work in ways that don't hurt our bodies.

How does this relate to a lap desk? A Lap of Luxury Lap Desk is an ergonomically correct piece of furniture. It allows you to sit in a relaxed fashion with your work well supported on your lap. Five inches of foam (large size) elevate the solid wood surface up towards your eyes. Bending and twisting are eliminated. With low back support provided by a pillow or a lumbar cushion, your bed or couch becomes a luxurious place to do crossword puzzles, use your computer, or eat a meal.

When a piece of furniture is said to be ergonomically correct,  it means that your body is able to practice good posture while using it - which begs the question - What is good posture?

POSTURE

In 1947, the Posture Committee of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons included the following in their report:

"Posture is usually defined as the relative arrangement of the parts of the body. Good posture is that state of muscular and skeletal balance which protects the supporting structures of the body against injury or progressive deformity irrespective of the attitude (erect, lying, squatting, stooping) in which these structures are working or resting. Poor posture is a faulty relationship of the various parts of the body, which produces increased strain on the supporting structures and in which there is less efficient balance of the body over its base of support."

Postural faults have their origin in the misuse of the capacities of the body, not in its structure and function. A normal body will align itself perfectly over its base of support (when standing, that's your feet; when sitting, it's your hips) and will protect itself while exerting force.

Here's an example of normal postural alignment from the side when standing:

plumb-line-test

If you drop a plumb line from the middle of your head to the floor, it should go through the lobe of your ear, the center of your shoulder joint, approximately midway through your trunk, the center of your elbow, hip and knee joints, and in front of your ankle bone. Your chin will be slightly in and down, your shoulders back so that your arms hang at your sides, your stomach tucked in (no sway back), your knees relaxed (not forced back).

Continue to Part 2 of Computer Ergonomics and the Use of Lap Desks