How can I work lying down?

By Deane Barker on December 4, 2008

I’ve done something brutal to my lower back. Sitting is painful. Standing is painful. My only option is to lie down, a position my chiropractor encourages because it causes the swelling of the offending disk to go down. And he’s right — after laying down flat for a couple hours, I’m pretty functional for a couple more.

But, how can I work prone? I can read, I can watch TV, but how can I…code? Does anyone have any experience or good ideas here?



  1. You do mean prone, and not supine, correct? I work on my computer in the prone position often; lay on my belly on the floor with my laptop in front of me. I can only do it for an hour or so before my shoulders get tired, but it works well for me. My wife says she can’t understand how that can be comfortable, but it is. It’s especially helpful when my lower back is giving me trouble.

    Supine — on the back — that’s a different question. That would probably involve some kind of hardware to pull off.

  2. I’ve managed to work at a reasonable level of efficiency with a laptop sitting on my chest whilst laying down, but it does get rather warm. That’s basically what kept me from continuing.

  3. Someone, somewhere must make a bedside table adapted for supine computer usage and other sorts of things normally done sitting at a table or desk. Check with medical supply houses. You may be able to rent something like that. Might be worth the cost for a month or so.

  4. You can’t.

    I went through something like this a few years ago. Back then I wrote:

    “I’m gong for surgery later this month for something the neurosurgeon calls a microdisectomy at the C6 and C7 sections of the spine. Over the past year, I haven’t had a left arm without pain and muscle weakness. It’s a funny thing, I can snow ski without too much pain (a lot of the movements are similar to what I’ve done in physical therapy) but a nice bicycle ride or time at the computer can be excruciating.”

    Although a different cause and different parts of the back, sound familiar to you? Even after surgery, I still have some pain but at least I have my arm strength back. No more dropping my coffee mug because I couldn’t hold it straight!

    Take care of yourself!

  5. Not that you need this anymore, but if I lie on my back with my head propped up and my knees bent with my feet flat on the ground, I find that resting my laptop on my thighs allows me to work just fine, at least for a little while.

  6. There are several ways to mount televisions, cameras, and speakers on the wall of your home – couldn’t one of these be adapted to holding a laptop or a keyboard in position suspended above your bed? Or, could you for example, get a storage rack on wheels that is open on both front and back, adjust a shelf at a comfortable distance above where you are laying [couch, pallet with padding, matt on floor], and mount the keyboard there? If it were strong enough, you could attach a light weight monitor also – – –

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