Experiments in posture

Posted: January 22, 2015 in writing life
Tags: , ,

Working at a computer all day can play hell with the muscles in your neck and shoulders. Despite doing stretches three times a day and visiting a physiotherapist every few weeks, my body’s still giving me a lot of trouble. So today I am starting an experiment in preventive action, with an improvised standing work desk.

IMG_0781[1]This is my fourth different attempt to make things better since realising how much trouble computer work was causing for my body. First came the dining room table, so that I wouldn’t just be sprawling in random places and postures. Then it was Chromecasting to the television, so that the screen was straight ahead of me. After that I tried a separate monitor on top of a pile of filing boxes, so that I could combine sitting upright at a desk with that straight ahead screen. Each one has helped a bit, but I didn’t think I’d find a proper solution until I could afford to buy some kind of ergonomic desk.

Fortunately, Laura is smarter than me. She pointed out that I could turn the Ikea shelves in the corner of my workspace into an upright work station, just by adjusting a couple of shelves. As well as giving me the chance to try typing while standing – which is supposed to be one of the better ways to work – it also means that I’m forced to declutter this room some more, which is good for my mental processes.

Two and half hours in my legs are starting to ache, and I think this approach might take some adjustment. But my shoulders feel good, and that’s a great start.

Remember kids, take care of your body – your brain can’t cope without it.

  1. I’ve heard of standing desks (and walking desks), but never tried one. I’ll be interested to hear how you get on. Keep us posted.

    • Based on the first day it’s pretty tiring – my legs feel like they do after a LRP weekend, completely weary. But my shoulders and neck feel far better than usual, so I have high hopes.

  2. I cannot use a standing desk, but I have an inversion table (it’s right here next to my desk) which I use frequently. It does wonders for the spine, legs, etc.

  3. jhmae says:

    I had a standing desk at my old job, with county government. The Building Department made it for me – it was just an extra lift that sat on top of the regular desk. I was having horrible pain in my hips (gone now). I think it cost $7 to make, but it caused a huge scandal all over the courthouse. Not sure why. These days, I sit all day. I’m sure I’ll pay for it later.

    • It’s amazing how wound up people can get about little things in an office isn’t it? I suspect it’s linked to work that’s often so detached from the real end results – you’ve only got little things left to invest in emotionally.

      While I didn’t have a standing desk, my previous employers were also good at making sure my desk setup took care of my posture. One of those little benefits I didn’t appreciate while I was there, but I still wouldn’t trade it in for the benefits of self-employment.

  4. casblomberg says:

    Hope it continues to work out. I tried an improvised standing desk for about two days before I gave it up.

  5. Sheila Thomas says:

    A colleague at work has a desk that can be easily adjusted from sitting height to standing height, so he can vary it during the day. Expensive, of course, but in the end may well be worth the investment.

  6. Sheila Thomas says:

    Andy, a quick search reveals that one can get an adjustable unit that goes on top of ones normal working desk and can be adjusted for periods of work standing, rather then the full-blown adjustable desk. Much more affordable, of course, and might do the trick for you?

    • Thanks Sheila, I’ll bear the adjustable desk in mind. Inspired by what you said about your colleague, I realised that I could change the height I’m working at by either standing to work at the separate monitor or sitting on a kitchen stool directly facing the laptop. Using that today means I’ve been able to get rests from standing while still working, and that’s helped.

  7. […] long, crippling pain. Hello, productivity. A month or more on from setting up a standing desk, I’m seeing huge […]

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