As creatives, we tend to spend a lot of time in front of our computers when we are not in our headsets or sketching.
It’s often easy to get carried away with our work, and forget about ergonomics, and our health. In this post we will talk about some ways to improve your work setup to not only be more comfortable, but also to prevent injuries, such as repetitive stress injuries.
Repetitive Stress Injuries are a type of injury that can occur by carrying out repetitive motions, or from poor posture. They can be debilitating and zap the fun out of being creative, and they can show up in the middle of big projects. Trust us, they are no fun. That said, with the right setup, you can avoid them, or, if you’ve had them before, you can prevent getting them again.
We will take a look at the following ergonomic solutions in this post:
- Monitor Height
- Office chairs
- Foot pads.
Because the monitor is where you are looking while working, the positioning of it is more important than you might think. Poor positioning of monitors can lead to neck and back pain, and poor posture.
Add to that that most monitors ship with stands that only offer a small amount or no amount of adjustment, and most of us don’t think twice about positioning the screen at the proper height. The majority of our monitors sit too low. And if we use laptops, which are amazing for portability, the vast majority of us end up hunching over our laptops. For short bursts this is fine– but for long term use – not so much.
So what is the proper height?
A monitor should be positioned so that the center of it is alighted or slightly above the level of your eyes – if you were to project a line from your eyes to your monitor, and that line was parallel to the floor, that line should hit the center, or slightly below center of your monitor.
If your monitor is too low, you have a few options.
The simplest and easiest way is to prop it up on top of a box, stand, or books. If it gets the monitor up, then that is what counts.
If you want to go for a slightly more elegant solution, a monitor arm can be a great solution. These are highly adjustable, and get the monitor up and off the desk, freeing up desk space while looking really cool.
For laptop users, you may want to check out some of the portable laptop stand solutions such as the Roost stand, or the M Stand. There are even attachments for monitor stands that can hold a laptop up as well.
If you type a lot, a good ergonomic keyboard can go a long way in making time at your computer more comfortable. While there are multiple solutions out there, split keyboards can go a long way in preventing RSI’s, especially in the wrist. You can also squeeze a small drawing tablet in between the two halves as well.
Great split keyboards include the Kinesis Freestyle 2, and the CloudNine C989.
While the ergonomics of mice has come a LONG way over the years, if you use a mouse a lot on a daily basis, especially for doing 3D work, you may want to look into mice designed specifically for CAD, or vertical mice.
CAD mice have a dedicated 3rd button, which can seem odd at first but can save the muscles in your hand from having to constantly mash down the scroll wheel.
A great option for a 3D mouse is the 3D connexion CADmouse.
Vertical mice put your hand in in a more neutral position and can really help with wrist fatigue. That can take a bit of getting used to, but can also be very practical.
Some great options include the Logitech MX vertical, and the Evoluent vertical mouse.
It should be noted that there is a height difference between a work desk, and a table used for eating.
The top of a desk should usually sit at around 27-27.5 inches from the ground, while the top of a dining table usually sits at 29-29.5 inches from the ground. While two inches may not seem like a lot, your arms WILL notice it. Properly adjusted desk height can help with posture, as your arms will fall more neutral on a lower desk.
While standing desks are also great, knowing the good height wile sitting can help make work more comfortable.
Investing in a good chair, especially if you spend a lot of time in front of the screen, is entirely worth it. Put another way, as creatives, we often spend more time in our office chair, than we do in our bed. And when one considers the cost of a good mattress, the cost for a high quality office chair starts to make more sense.
Good office chairs promote good posture, provide good back, leg, and arm support, are easy to adjust and move, and can save you visits to the chiropractor.
Herman Miller, Steelcase and Autonomous are just a few companies that make good adjustable office chairs worth looking into.
We also know that gaming chairs are often talked about for their comfort, but in many cases gaming chairs don’t offer the same level of adjustability and support as an office chair.
This one is random – but foot rests can be really really helpful in promoting good posture.
Some people have shorter legs than others, and when sitting, end up angling the feet to the ground. This can cause bad posture, and extra strain, because the feet aren’t supported. It sounds odd, and until you’ve experienced a foot pillow, it may sound crazy!
However, once you have your feet fully supported with a foot pillow, you will notice the difference almost instantly. Some are rigid and some are soft, but any type of foot support is recommended for good posture.
That about wraps it up. We wish you the best for the new year and hope these tips will help you work in more comfort!