Set your laptop on a tabletop or standing desk, and you’re in for an ergonomic nightmare. The screen seems to always be too low, forcing you to angle your neck and slump your shoulders at an uncomfortable angle. The last thing you need is back pain from work that’s already a pain. Plus, if you plan to use a full-sized keyboard, there’s nowhere to place it because the laptop itself is in the way–and, you can just forget about trying to use a laptop in bed with the impossible-to-reach angles and the device constantly overheating.
That’s why there’s an entire industry of laptop stands designed to raise, angle, and support your laptop in any situation imaginable. If you spend much of your time working from home and use a laptop rather than a desktop, you’ll quickly discover some sort of stand is a necessity, especially if you plan on using a separate keyboard and mouse in conjunction with it. You might even need more than one type of stand, since some work best on the kitchen table, while others help you work in bed or lounging on the couch. Some are even specifically designed to turn your desk into a standing desk or help musicians follow music while performing on stage. The possibilities are seemingly endless.
Whether you’re back in the office full time, still working from home, or some hybrid of both, it’s no secret that sitting in front of a computer for 8 or 10 or 12 hours a day isn’t great for your health. “Sitting puts excessive stress on the low back, shoulders, and neck and can lead to low back pain, neck pain, shoulder impingement, carpal tunnel and more,” says Caleb Ridgway, a chiropractic sports physician who has treated the U.S. Olympic Track and Field team. Those aches and pains (and fear of death by sitting) are exactly what drive so many people to look for standing desks and laptop stands — really anything to help them set up a slouch-proof desk and get work done without suffering from the consequences of sitting.
But even if you’re convinced about the benefits of standing more during the workday, it can be hard to know which type of laptop stand, standing desk, or other ergonomic office accessory will actually relieve physical stress. Plus, simply owning a laptop stand won’t really help unless you know how to align it properly. If your alignment is too low, you’re going to have to raise your shoulders up to reach the keyboard, and that’s going to create neck pain. Too high, and your feet aren’t flat on the ground, which will create lower-back stress. “So the key is to keep your hips at 90 degrees and your elbows at 90 degrees,” says Dr. Chris Robl, owner and physical therapist at Physio Room. “Your hands should rest on the keyboard, and your feet should rest on a flat surface. Keep your monitor at or below eye level. You should not be looking down consistently; that’s a repetitive motion and it’s going to stress your back.” To make sure you are achieving this ideal alignment wherever you happen to be working, you’ll want a laptop stand that is height adjustable (and not to worry: all the stands on this list are).
Good alignment is just step one in the process of creating an ergonomic work space. Just as important, you should be switching up your positions throughout the day, ideally at half-hour or 45-minute intervals. “Every 30 minutes, get up and move around, just from a standing desk to a sitting desk and vice versa,” advises Dr. Kermit Davis, program director of industrial hygiene and occupational ergonomics at the University of Cincinnati. “It will reduce discomfort and long-term potential injuries. And research shows it doesn’t affect productivity.”
To help you set up that adjustable workstation or tweak your original March 2020 setup, I spoke with chiropractors, sports doctors, and physical therapists for advice on which ergonomic laptop stands can actually help prevent slouching, improve posture, and hopefully get you to focus better — or at least feel less bad all of the time, even if you do still have to stare at a screen all day.
What we’re looking for
Height: “It’s important to find a laptop stand that is sturdy, adjustable, and lets you easily manipulate the height so you can seamlessly transition from a sitting to a standing position and vice versa,” explains Ridgway, so that you can achieve the ideal alignment described by our experts above. Since every single stand on this list is adjustable, the specific height ranges of each are detailed below.
Weight: If you plan to move your laptop stand to work from different areas of your home — or you want to take it with you on the go — you’ll want something lightweight, so I’ve noted the weights throughout. Of course, if you plan to keep your laptop stand stationary, the weight is less of a concern.