Shoulder and Back Pain from Using the Computer


This past week I drove from The Woodlands, Texas (close to Houston) to Chapel Hill, NC in three days.  It would have been faster than that but I had work to do in Tennessee so I spent 36 hours there.  I’m really ready to not drive for awhile, in total I drove over 3500 miles in less than two weeks.

Today I’m dog-sitting for a friend and working at her house. I’m on my computer the whole time and normally I sit in a nice lounge chair, with my legs propped up (especially helpful since the ankle break) and my laptop in my lap, my arms hanging normally by my side, with my elbows next to my body and my forearms resting in my lap and fingers on my keyboard.  It’s the perfect position, absolutely nothing is stressed and with the exception of my forearm muscles moving my fingers, all of my muscles are just relaxed.

So, today I started out working on their kitchen table — now, I know better than that but I was doing it anyway, just not thinking about what was happening.  First of all, the table is higher (as kitchen tables are) so my shoulders were really involved in lifting up my arms, and my wrists were bent because the angle of my arms going up to the table forced my hands to be lifted so my fingers could reach the keys.

Now, this wouldn’t have been noticeable to most people, and actually I was ignoring the position until my back started to burn like crazy.  Then I also realized that I was leaning forward from my hips so my back wasn’t resting on anything.  I squirmed around a bit and finally I took a look at my position — horrors!!  I know better than that, but it happened anyway. I know that others are doing the same thing (more or less) and getting the burning pain in their back, so I figured I needed to share what I did to stop the pain.

First of all, I picked up my laptop and went into the living room and sat in the recliner, putting my legs up and resting into the chair.  Then I rested my arms and forearms, propped my laptop up on my legs which are now resting on the coffee table, and the pain went away immediately!

I keep telling people, the reason they call these little computers “laptops” is because they are supposed to be resting in your lap.  They aren’t supposed to have a mouse – which forces you to hold your arm out to your side and move your shoulder around. You’re supposed to use the trackpad that is just below your space bar.  It’s really worthwhile to get used to that trackpad, it will really help your shoulders a lot.

So, that’s my thought for the day.  While working on your computer, try to keep your body as neutral as possible, it will help to eliminate aches and pains.  One other plus, if you get tired you can just rest your head back, close your eyes, and you’re ready for a nap <LOL>.

Have a great day,


Sheranne C.

Sheranne C.

I love the last part, Julie, the nap! 🙂

Seriously, thanks for your story, really find it helpful for a working mom like me who spent number of hours in my laptop. In addition, getting breaks in between or just stop working whenever you feel to or whenever your body wants to during the duration of your shift is very important. Your mind and body need time to rest and we all know when is the perfect time to do this; they will just tell us that we need to stop or pause for a while. Health is very important and our jobs are just there temporarily to sustain our living. Just my two cents.

Julie Donnelly

Julie Donnelly

I agree with you Sheranne, here in the USA we have been taught to ignore the signals from our body, it’s time to change that. Even just a minute of closing your eyes and dropping your head, will make a big difference in how you feel each day. I like to think of it as a power nap. I’m glad you liked the blog, please forward it along to others so I can help even more people.

Sheranne C.

Sheranne C.

Will surely do. Take care.

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