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laptop and briefcase ergonomics < health tips < home

Laptop and Briefcase Ergonomics
Pack it light, wear it right.

Simple strategies to prevent injury while traveling with work related items. Stay healthy and on the job.

When you have got a heavy workload, it is easy to find yourself toting 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 carrier to lean to one side.

Choosing the right bag.

  1. Select a bag made of lightweight material such as vinyl or canvas instead of leather. I know leather looks and wears nice but it comes with a price in more ways than one. :)
  2. Choose a bag with wheels to help you take the load off your spine.
  3. Backpack style laptop bags with wide, adjustable, and padded straps are an excellent option because they distribute the weight evenly.
  4. 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.

  1. Reducing the weight you need to carry is important to avoiding injury. Take time to check your bag or briefcase each day and remove items that you do not need.
  2. Your laptop can be a heavy load to tote 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.
  3. 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.

  1. When using a backpack style case, use both shoulder straps and the waist strap, and adjust them to minimize movement of the bag.
  2. 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.

  1. 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.
  2. Exercise can help prevent injury. Regular exercise such as walking, swimming, or bicycling will help the body stay conditioned. Stretching before and after activities will help reduce muscle strain.
  3. Specific strengthening exercises for the back and abdominal, or core, area will help promote god posture, condition muscles, and prevent injury.

Remember to Pack it Light and Wear it Right. Injuries resulting from improper lifting and carrying of a heavy load can become chronic and can impact your quality of life. If you experience pain that lasts more than two or three days, call for an appointment to have it looked at.

Dr. Evans is a chiropractor dedicated to providing clients with natural, effective, health care in a relaxed, friendly atmosphere.

Dr. Ormond's 10 General Tips for a Healthy Back

  1. Exercise regularly.
  2. Follow a healthy diet.
  3. Maintain good posture as much as possible.
  4. Do an active warm up before activity and stretch after.
  5. Don't overload your backpack or shoulder bag.
  6. Stretch your legs and back after each hour of sitting.
  7. Never cradle the phone between your neck and shoulder.
  8. Sleep on your back or side, not on your stomach.
  9. Invest in a good chair, pillow and mattress. It's worth it!
  10. Have regular spinal check-ups.

Back Problem Warning Signs

  • Leg pain with numbness, tingling, and/or weakness.
  • Back or leg pain with coughing or sneezing.
  • Difficulty standing up after sitting for any period of time.
  • Stiffness in the morning that decreases when you move around.
  • Pain in your hip, buttock, thigh, knee, or foot.
  • Inability to turn or bend to each side equally.
  • Unbalanced posture, when your head, neck, or shoulder may be higher on one side than the other.
  • Pain which prevents you from sleeping well.
  • Pain that persists or worsens after 48 hours.

Pointing clients in the right direction towards a healthy, pain free, and productive lifestyle is important to Dr. Mitch Ormond. Treating most conditions is the easy part, its following through with the decision to get a problem taken care of that is the hard part.

Call 416.598.4999, email Dr. Mitch Ormond, or drop by the clinic for more information. You can get specific directions to the clinic by filling out our Mapquest® form.

Find out more about how we can help with your individual health care needs. Appointments recommended.

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