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Ask Slashdot: Ergonomic Office Environment? 235

Posted by Soulskill
from the i-recommend-airplane-seats dept.
relyte writes "In the spirit of the recent poll — where many people recommended ergonomic upgrades — what's the best way to get a comfortable, ergonomic, efficient work environment? I'm just starting my career in software development, and I'd like to get a great chair, keyboard, mouse, monitor, etc. What models would you recommend to save wear and tear on joints, eyes, and muscles? Are there other categories I should consider?"
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Ask Slashdot: Ergonomic Office Environment?

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  • by unity100 (970058) on Saturday October 15, 2011 @02:54PM (#37725286) Homepage Journal
    http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/855/ergonomy.png/ [imageshack.us]

    this image is an image that shows proper ergonomy for working in front of a computer. the orientation and alignment of arms, hands, back and their support is most important.
    • I normally set my monitor higher than the picture because I have the tendency to hunch if the monitor is lower than me. Once I have hunched over I have to tip my head up to look at the screen. These days I elevate my monitor so it is level with my eye-line.
    • by mdf356 (774923)

      IMO, those images are useless. I don't sit in one position all day, and it's not healthy to do so. I slouch, I lean forward, I sit up straight. My legs are stretched out in front of me, tucked behind me, sometimes one leg is crossed under my knee with my heel on my chair, etc.

      I have never had a keyboard tray I liked; invariable I bang my knees on it and it's not wide enough for my keyboard and all the places I want to put my mouse. My arms are usually out to my sides a bit. I want my monitor's center a

      • by Mprx (82435)

        I also change my sitting position frequently. I removed my chair's arm rests to allow more flexibility.

        I use a Microsoft Natural Ergonomic 4000, which has a great layout but poor quality rubber dome keyswitches. Several people on the geekhack.org keyboard forums have modded these to use mechanical keyswitches, so maybe I'll do the same.

      • by Risen888 (306092)

        I just wrapped up a contract gig for a government agency who shall remain nameless. I had a sit/stand workstation there. God, it was nice. I'm gonna start saving up for one at home. I agree that keyboard trays are teh dumb.

        I don't really like the split keyboard setup, but one thing I've noticed doing a lot of work at home (on my Model M) and at various contracts (who all have the same identical el cheapo HP keyboard) is that a physically larger keyboard helps me immensely. Whenever I'm using one of those ti

    • There are 3 important differential-heights to get correct:
      floor -> chair (so your legs are comfortable)
      chair -> desk (so your arms are comfortable once sitting)
      chair -> monitor (so your eyes are at a sensible level and you are not looking down too much).

      Laptops are a disaster for this unless you use a laptop stand + external keyboard. Also, imho, most tables are too low, and you'll never get it right if you don't fix this first.

      Also

      • Actually, far too many workspaces are set up at countertop height (34"-36"), which is much too high. A sit-down working desk, especially if you spend a lot of time at the keyboard, should be no higher than 28"-30" off the floor. That is why add-on keyboard drawers hang UNDER the desk, often by 4"-6".
        • by vlm (69642)

          Actually, far too many workspaces are set up at countertop height (34"-36"), which is much too high. A sit-down working desk, especially if you spend a lot of time at the keyboard, should be no higher than 28"-30" off the floor. That is why add-on keyboard drawers hang UNDER the desk, often by 4"-6".

          Had those trays at work... absolutely crippling to tall people like myself. My knees would hit the tray so I had to spread my legs and get all bow legged from typing between my knees or hunch my hips/back/shoulders to type in front of my knees. Five minutes with a screwdriver removed the tray and the pain.

      • Agree with all of the above, and also: I once had a motorized table that could be raised and lowered at a touch of a button. It was wonderful. I could raise the table and stand up to stretch my back and legs, it had room for two monitors. The "desktop" PC was actually hanging under the table, but out of the way so I didn't bang my knees on it when sitting down.
    • So like this then: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jtt2Xe2y0FI [youtube.com]

    • Re:No chair (Score:5, Informative)

      by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Saturday October 15, 2011 @03:58PM (#37725664)
      It is true that standing up, at least part of the time, can be a healthy improvement over sitting for 8-10 hours a day. However, I am unaware of any study showing that standing for the entire time is necessary or even desirable. That is the reason for the recent popularity of the adjustable desks, that can be changed from sitting height to standing height. They are much more popular than standing-only desks although quite a bit more expensive, too.
      • I remember a tour of the courthouse in town one time, the judge's dais had a hole in the floor; he could open the trap door with his feet and stand, and appear at the same level as if he were sitting on his chair. This allowed him to sit or stand, so that he didn't get uncomfortable during long trials.

        May or may not be an option for you, but if it is, I'd imagine it'd be cheaper than an adjustable desk.

    • This just in, http://ergo.human.cornell.edu/CUESitStand.html [cornell.edu]

      From TFA:

      The bottom line:

      Sit to do computer work. Sit using a height-adjustable, downward titling keyboard tray for the best work posture, then every 20 minutes stand for 2 minutes AND MOVE. The absolute time isn’t critical but about every 20-30 minutes take a posture break and move for a couple of minutes. Simply standing is insufficient. Movement is important to get blood circulation through the muscles. Research shows that you don’t

    • How about this? [youtube.com]

      I almost want to set something like this up...

    • I'm about 6 months into standing. I use a soft pad under my feet and swap out a bar stool if I feel tired. I also take frequent walks, using the time to find solutions to what I'm working on. I shifted to standing after finding that I couldn't sit for more than 15 minutes without back pain, which began after a few months of increased sitting time. Standing offered immediate relief.

      I'm no stranger to physical activity, so I don't think the lack of exercise was the culprit. In fact, exercise has always b

  • by Haedrian (1676506) on Saturday October 15, 2011 @03:00PM (#37725322)

    Don't stay sitting down, every so often walk around a bit. Go to the water cooler or slack off or something. It's good for you.

    Even the best chair setup will damage you eventually.

    • I saw an @Google video a few weeks ago that recommended sitting in the cockpit position, reclined about 35deg. Apparently the Air Force did a study, and found it would be cheaper and more effective to just design their aircraft seats to those specs than to teach their pilots how to keep good posture in a "normal" seat. (At least that's what the guy in the video said.)

      He also talked about the main problem with posture for the average office/cubicle drone. We tend to hunch forward over the keyboard, which for

      • by bkmoore (1910118)
        But it's harder to see behind you if you're reclined at 35 degrees. Can be deadly in a visual fight.
      • doesn't fighter plane seat angle have more to do with g-forces and blood movement? Or was that just something I read on the internet?
      • by xrayspx (13127)
        Huh, I organically seem to have come to the same conclusion. I lean back about 30deg or so which means I'm staring about dead center into my monitors, maybe a bit lower. It means my upper arms are not straight up and down, and I don't have a 90deg bend at the elbow, but my arms and wrists are straight all the way to the keyboard. Also, I've found that armrests on my chairs (Aerons for home and work) do more harm than good and cause elbow pain, so they're lowered out of the way, I don't miss them, and no
    • I won't recommend a particular brand, but be sure to get a fully-adjustable chair that is rated for more than 8 hours, even if you are only sitting in it for 4 or less. Your body will thank you.
    • Personally, I grew up with a smallish rocking chair and used a laptop. When I grew out of that, I put together a custom setup involving a car's bucket seat(1), a "lap desk" suspended from the ceiling above me which my monitor and keyboard tray are mounted. It seems to work nicely - 8 hours with barely a break or two and I'm not feeling much strain at all.
      http://robbiethe1st.afraid.org/images/20110917_005-small.jpg [afraid.org]

      (1) - Think: Cars these days generally have people sitting in them for many hours at a time, an

  • If you don't have a "a comfortable, ergonomic, efficient work environment" at home . . . then you have other problems.

    Most employers won't cough up the bucks for ergonomic stuff anyways. They read "ergonomic" as "expensive" . . . which it usually is. But you have a free open range at home.

    • Oh, nonsense. They realize that repetitive stress injuries are one of the biggest costs to health care. My company tries to shove ergonomic stuff down our throats once a month or so.

            Most of it makes my hand/arm/back hurt. I actually prefer the standard stuff and in particular, the Godammned "keyboard tray" that is not solid and moves around as you are trying to use it is a damn disaster.

    • by gmack (197796)

      Yes but that doesn't mean you have to suffer. Just because you are at work does not mean the employer must pay for everything. and I can't imagine an employer that would mind an employee bringing things to work that make them work more efficiently. I'm not saying go all out but forking out $20 - $30 for a monitor riser stand so at least the worst of the neck strain isn't an issue will at least make life easier.

  • Exercise (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ion++ (134665) on Saturday October 15, 2011 @03:06PM (#37725358)

    Are there other categories I should consider?

    Yes, exercise

    • Mod parent up.

      Exercise is critical to long term orthopedic heath - proper muscle tone is needed to support the ligaments, joints and spine. Unless you exercise you will always eventually have back problems no matter how good the ergonomics of your seating position are.

    • by antdude (79039)

      Exercise what? Our fingers?

  • well, it depends on what kind of impression you want to give. the setup that i had at ISS was a swivel chair that had a split keyboard, with a mouse track-pad on one half. even as a touch-typist, it took about 2 weeks to get used to, for two reasons:

    1) the split keyboard when mounted on the arms of the chair turns out to be just outside of peripheral vision. it was a real surprise to learn that i was relying on peripheral vision to get 150wpm typing speed.

    2) the split spacebar (one on each half) had me

  • And you are already making demands? Be happy if you get something more than a milk crate to sit on.

  • by markdavis (642305) on Saturday October 15, 2011 @03:14PM (#37725404)

    The two best things I ever did was to cut 4" off the legs of my desk and to start using a split keyboard, both about 10 years ago. Split keyboards never seem to turn any heads, but I get a lot of snide comments about my low desk. I don't care- I did what was necessary to prevent further RSI and CTS. Sometimes simple changes can make a world of difference.

    The other change was to pay more attention to what my body was telling me. And that is a lot more difficult than one might imagine- especially when overworked and tied up in so many projects and demands. I have yet to master it.

    • by msobkow (48369)

      My problem is usually having to raise the desk somehow. At 6' 2", my legs are long enough that my knees are brushing the desktop if I don't. I can't fit at a desk that has a drawer or keyboard tray.

      Microsoft Natural series keyboard here, trackball instead of a mouse (you'd be surprised how much stress there is on your wrist from lifting and moving the mouse all day), and monitor raised so that the top of the screen is 2" above eye level.

      • by martas (1439879)
        Trackball = YES! I switched to one of those logitech thumb operated trackball mice a few years ago, and i'd never go back. it is infinitely more comfortable not moving your wrist, not having to worry about having free space around the mouse, not having the cable pulling in weird directions, etc.
  • by WCLPeter (202497) on Saturday October 15, 2011 @03:14PM (#37725406) Homepage

    In my experience ergonomic all too often means "uncomfortable as all hell". Find a chair and desk where you can sit pain free for a while and, like the poster above suggests, get up and walk around.

    My in office set up gives the Ergonomic Coordinator fits but it's comfortable for me and, assuming I take regular breaks, I suffer no joint or back pain.

    In other words, do what works for you; chances are something similar to what you use at home will come out on top.

  • If you are a software developer, you should have some knowledge of what sort of keyboard, mouse and monitor you prefer. As far as chairs, the only way to check is to go test them out. I have this chair and its pretty comfortable, also you don't sweat through your shirt and upper pants when it gets too hot in the office. http://www.officedepot.com/a/products/510830/Realspace-PRO-Quantum-Mesh-Mid-Back/ [officedepot.com]
  • by will381796 (1219674) on Saturday October 15, 2011 @03:17PM (#37725430)
    I work in Environmental Health and we get requests to perform an ergonomic evaluation all the time. Most of the time people call us thinking that we'll simply be able to get them a more expensive chair and that's the extent of what's required to work ergonomically. First, get out of the mind-set that you need to spend a lot of money to create an ergonomic work environment. Many people think that in order to have a workstation that is "ergonomic" then you need to have a piece of furniture that's been stamped ergonomic by the manufacturer. But that's simply not the case; you can create a completely ergonomic work setup with standard furniture without the need to pay a premium to buy an "ergonomic" workstation. You can do a lot to improve the ergonomics of your workstation by simply rearranging where you keep your equipment. If you have your monitor to your side so you constantly have to look over when you type, then move it in the middle. The top of the monitor should be at your eye level (it's more comfortable to look down slightly while you're typing than it is to look up or straight ahead for extended periods of time). If you're constantly leaning over to see your screen, bring it closer to you. Try and get away from wrist-rests; despite what you might think, having your wrists constantly sitting on those "ergonomic" wrist rests is actually terrible for your wrists and your typing technique. If you spend a lot of time on the phone, use a headset instead of picking up the phone and awkwardly holding it in place with your neck. Make sure your feet are flat on the floor...really all you need in a good chair is firm lumbar support and the ability to adjust its height so your legs aren't dangling or bent awkwardly (use a footrest if you're short and can't touch the ground with the chair all the way down). Buy a simple document holder to hold documents you are reviewing while you work, rather than have them laying flat or holding them in your hands. Take frequent breaks from your work (5 minutes every hour is usually recommended). This all will work wonders to improve your productivity and also reduce your risk of developing any type of repetitive motion injuries.
    • Try and get away from wrist-rests; despite what you might think, having your wrists constantly sitting on those "ergonomic" wrist rests is actually terrible for your wrists and your typing technique.

      I take back what I said about keyboard trays, the "wrist rests" are the absolute worst. It puts your wrist at a funny angle, and worse, it applies pressure and cuts off circulation to your skin. Its the same problems as overly-soft car seats, you butt goes numb after a while.

      • Use the gel-wrist-rests under the elbows though... that can help if you have a hard desk and don't wear a sweater.

    • The one item I disagree with you about is the chair. There is a lot more to a good chair than simple height adjustment and lumbar support. No chairs in the United States are rated healthy for 8 hours or more of sitting unless they are fully adjustable for height and tilt, as well as back position (front-to-back distance), height and angle.

      I definitely agree with you about foot support. Many people set their chair too low in relation to the desk, so that their feet can reach the floor comfortably. This is
      • "No chairs in the United States are rated healthy for 8 hours or more of sitting unless..."

        Probably a better point is that no chair should be rated healthy for 8 hours or more, full stop.

    • by Zumbs (1241138)
      Adding to this, I would also suggest to ensure that your mouse elbow is at rest on your desk. It really helps keeping the arm relaxed when working with the mouse.
  • by dballanc (100332) on Saturday October 15, 2011 @03:23PM (#37725472)

    Seriously. I had the most comfortable chair in the world I think, and after several years I find it partially to blame for several years of back problems. Long hours in relatively the same position == BAD, no matter how painless it feels at the time. I've been adjusting my work-style and recovering.

    I think it's best to get a chair that encourages motion of any kind. Swivel, moving back, etc. Comfortable enough that you can focus, but uncomfortable enough to remind you to shift and move around frequently. A little self-disciple would work too, but I find myself getting focused and forgetting easily. Two different types of chairs is also handy.

    Good habits will really help. I find that 'thinking' time is best spend walking/pacing and working on a wall mounted whiteboard as much as possible. Your body really thrives on variety.

    I also suggest a raising/standing desk. I found a hydraulic hospital table (the kind they put by hospital beds that raise and extend over the bed). Using that as my computer desk has been great. It's simple to lower it and use from a chair, or raise it and use standing. They also make real standing desks, but they are fairly expensive (the used hospital table was $20).

    Other things I've found helpful:

    Ergo keyboards. Not the common kind, but those that you can split and have several inches between the two halves. I use a goldtouch, which has been partially disassembed to allow for more separation. I miss my model M, but the goldtouch is easier on the wrists

    Alternate mouse, or switching right/left sides occasionally. Personally I have a trackball on the right and an apple touchpad on the left for scrolling and gestures. Adding the touchpad solved some ulnar nerve pain I had been fighting in my right hand/wrist.

    The last thing isn't ergo specifically, but multiple monitors are a big plus for development work.

    • by Tablizer (95088)

      Long hours in relatively the same position == BAD, no matter how painless it feels at the time. I've been adjusting my work-style and recovering...I think it's best to get a chair that encourages motion of any kind.

      Put tacks all over it, points facing out
         

    • I think it's best to get a chair that encourages motion of any kind.

      BS

      I had a cheap Office Max chair that wasn't terribly comfortable and I found myself twisting around all the time and trying weird positions to try to get comfortable. Eventually I started getting back pains. I replaced it with a Herman Miller Embody (their most expensive model - $1,200) which is much more comfortable and the back pains went away. I wish I could get one of these chairs at work over the basic swivel chair they give me.

      I realized there were 2 problems with the cheap chair that the expensiv

      • by dballanc (100332)

        Nothing wrong with a comfortable chair, it's the extremes either way that get you. My 'super-comfortable' chair was essentially build like a fluffy recliner. Sitting in it felt like perching on a cloud. Did you ever see the Tick episode with the most comfortable chair, built as a super weapon my the Ottoman empire trying to take over the world? This was that chair. I could spend 4-5 hours at a time in that chair working and not even realize it until my stomach started growling.

        Some cheap office chair

  • This is an obvious suggestions, since it's the first keyboard that comes up if you search for "ergonomic keyboard". It is really a great all-around keyboard. I bought one a few years ago after having broken my right wrist. It was very painful to type with my wrists rotated inward, and this keyboard allows the wrist to be at just enough of a tilt to make it very comfortable. I can type on a regular keyboard now, but wouldn't think of going back.

    For the chair, as others have suggested, don't get a super c

  • I did my back in some thirty years ago in a car accident.
    The result is that I can't sit in a conventional chair for very long.
    I use a kneeling chair at home and in the office. Google for them.
    They have improved my posture.

    Then get your monitor heght adjusted properly. The middle of the screen should be at the same height as your eyeballs.

    Then, as has been suggested, get a decent keyboard. I'm currently using a SteelSeries 6Gv2. Don't skimp on a KB. the keys need to give your finger proper feedback.

    Oh, and I

  • There is no comfortable position, because people move around constantly. What's bad is having a chair that doesn't allow for you to move around. I remember at my work place, the truck drivers were made to wear seat belts, and after a couple of weeks, the numbers of drivers complaining of back pain increased by a factor of 10.

  • I use the Magic Trackpad, which I find ergonomically so much better than a mouse. Even after a long workday (it is not that unusual for me to work 12 hours or even more), my wrist no longer hurts.

    Also, there is an OS X program called Time Out, and a free version called Time Out Free, available from the Apple App Store. It has repeating, adjustable timers you can set to remind you to take short breaks. I think the default settings are a minute or two minutes every 15 minutes, and 5 or 10 minutes on the ho
  • by Lost+Found (844289) on Saturday October 15, 2011 @04:07PM (#37725704)

    I found out about these keyboards from an old Slashdot post [slashdot.org] about "Das Keyboard". Das Keyboard was revealed by a commenter to be a KeyTronic keyboard with the key labels removed. Aside from the "blank key" gimmick, there was one thing the Das Keyboard had going for it which it had inherited from the KeyTronic: five different spring weights for the keys, based on which finger is used to engage the key. That way your pinky doesn't have to work as hard hitting tab as your thumb does on space. After switching to KeyTronic keyboards on all my PCs, I never looked back. In fact, traditional everyday USB keyboards hurt my fingers after enough use, but I never have that problem with the KeyTronic.

    • If you're having trouble with your fingers hurting on a modern USB keyboard, consider that you might be pushing the keys too hard. You don't need to push hard on a modern keyboard, but if you do, you'll end up pushing something with no give, and all the force will be transferred into the ends of your fingers (and the plastic body of the keyboard, of course). That hurts.
  • I'm convinced that there isn't an ideal setup. I will say that in my current setup, I have an expensive chair (Steelcase Leap) and that it is most definitely more comfortable that the common $100 office chair, and I have not had any back/leg issues from it since I started using it a year ago. I won't lie that it's a cool looking chair, and there's something nice about a pleasant aesthetic, but the real advantage is that it offers adjustments to the seat (depth, primarily) which properly supports my legs. T

  • The rule of thumb is for the top of your screen to be at eye height sitting erect. Any higher causes your lids to lift (so I once read) and can lead to dry eyes.

    I personally had back problems associated with using the mouse with my right hand on the other side of the numeric keypad. Changed to my left hand, which is less used for other things. This moved the mouse closer to my body line and reduces stress on the upper shoulders. If I really need precision, it's easy enough to reach across with my righ

  • The best, in my opinion, is a Lay-Z-Boy. I mean, can you really beat the Chill 2 Motor Massage/Heat Rocker with a built in cooler? [la-z-boy.com]. I don't think so. Get yourself some kind of swivel monitor/keyboard setup for easy access in any position and your day is golden.

    Also, exercise, as others have mentioned. Otherwise your body will fall apart even WITH a 2 motor massage/heat rocker with built in cooler.
  • In addition to anything else getting suggested as far as equipment goes, make a point of moving around often. I know it's easy to forget, but if you tie it to another activity, it becomes much easier. I've only just started recently as well, but already I've noticed how much it helps.

    For instance, the place I'm working at now stocks an entire fridge full of drinks and has a pretty nice coffee machine. We're welcome to have as much as we like, so I make a point of finishing a coffee, soda, water, or whatever

    • by KMSelf (361)
      Please, at the very least, make that sugar-free. Water, green tea, black tea, or coffee are all far better for you (in rough order) than soda. Let's re-phrase that. The first two or three are actually beneficial, the fourth 1-2x day is OK. Soda is nothing but bad.
  • I can't use a mouse for more than an hour before I get problems. Yes, that's my fault... I rest my arm on my desk and move my wrist. Yes, that's bad ergo practice. Frankly, I think it's silly to expect me to hover my arm for more than a few seconds...

    Trackballs are just as bad.

    I DO recommend a thumb trackball.... you rest your whole arm, and the only part that moves is your thumb. Once I got used to it, my problems disappeared.

    Tony

    • by jon3k (691256)
      I had the same problem a few years ago, so I learned to use my left hand. Now I use my mouse with my left hand at work, and right hand at home. No more wrist pain! Took about 2 weeks of use to get to a point where it wasn't frustratingly slow, but it has paid off in spades.
  • A few years ago now, I had wrist problems which were said to be from spending too much time in front of the keyboard.

    I looked for every possible way to relieve the problem, hoping that I'd find someone or something that could simply say "Do this. You'll be much better". I learned something that most manufacturers of ergonomic products don't tell you. Specialists in setting up an ergonomic work environment will tell you - but not before you've paid them (£/$/€)a few hundred.

    Nobody can say "Buy pro

  • In my opinion workplace ergonomics do not go far enough. Most are concerned about physical injury but do not include the worker's general well being. Most new office towers now include methods to provide natural lighting, but old buildings can be more like dungeons. Luckily, I work in an office building in an area with windows, though tinted, which let's in natural light.

    The other issue that I have with office environments is the lack of fresh air. There is nothing like being able to open a window to ge

  • I'm pushing 40, and getting into the range where ergo issues come up more than I'd like--have occasional RSI issues in my arms and wrists, and my back and neck aren't quite as forgiving as they used to be.

    One thing that's worked well for me was moving to Herman Miller Embody chairs at both work and home. I'm not necessarily recommending that exact model. I like them, but the styling is unusual and they're pricy if you don't find a good discount somewhere (hint, ask if you can arrange to piggyback on your wo

  • I trashed my $600 "ergo chair" and went with a balance ball for $35. Promotes some movement, but be careful if you notice yourself slumping over-- get up and stretch. Take up yoga.

  • If you're going to be talking on the phone, get a headset. Not only does it keep your hands free, but you don't end up trying to pinch the handset between your head & shoulder, which is very bad for your neck.

    Most office phones can have one connected into it without a problem. Get one with comfortable padding, though the foam pads often wear out after about a year and can often be replaced (tho for some reasons these are expensive).

    I prefer a double ear headset with a boom mic over the bluetooth ones

  • I've been using an Evoluent VM4R for the past few months and am pretty happy with it. It keeps your mouse hand closer to sideways than a traditional mouse. Before I used Microsoft Natural Laser Mouse 4000 for several years, but my thumb was getting sore so I switched to Evoluent.

    I also switched from a full-size 102 keyboard to a spacesaver keyboard. I'm using an IBM Ultranav Travel USB keyboard, which is basically like the keyboard/palm assembly from a 15" laptop. It has a trackpad which is handy for ta

  • The best you can do with a good ergonomic set-up is to minimize the negative effects of spending hours in front of a computer.

    So sure: get a decent chair, make sure your monitor is set to the proper height. Experiment with sitting/standing configurations. Use a laptop or tablet (or book) periodically which lets you get away from your desk. Get up and walk around every hour or so. That will all help.

    But what fixes your musculature and skeletal is actually stressing it. Yeah, weight training. 2x weekly m

  • I'm just starting my career in software development, and I'd like to get a great chair, keyboard, mouse, monitor, etc

    Odds are that if this your first gig as a professional software engineer (developer) you are fairly junior and working for a real company. If that's the case, you will get whatever they give you, augmented by whatever you can steal (aka - repurpose gear that you find unattended and unspoken for.) Be prepared - they will probably try to stick you with whatever the last guy left behind at the

  • The following equipment saved my career. You likely cannot imagine the amount of agony I was in at one point until I aggressively moved to using ergonomic equipment and making sure that my work environment was set up ergonomically. E.g., having the monitor directly in front of my, rather than off to the side.

    The most important piece of ergonomic equipment was the Kinesis Contour Keyboard:

    http://www.kinesis-ergo.com/contoured.htm [kinesis-ergo.com]

    A typical keyboard seems designed to destroy

  • One thing I didn't see recommended elsewhere was to keep monitors low. This keeps your eyes form drying out (by looking upward) and reduces eye strain. I'm practically the only dev in my shop with my monitors still on pedestals - everyone else is using swing-arms. Although, I'm switching to swing-arms myself just to keep the dust bunnies down, I'm still going to keep them low.

    FYI, I had eye surgery (surface ablation, similar to lasik) a year or two ago. I don't have a problem with dry eyes, even though I am

  • I have been using one of these http://www.kabseating.com/office/product.asp?product=81 [kabseating.com] for the last ten years. Properly adjusted, they are fantastic. Expensive but I can't recommend them enough! I have no doubt that this has prevented my existing neck and back problems from degenerating further.
  • For home office use, an adjustable recumbent seat can be VERY comfortable. I use the electric recliner I inherited from my father. It will even stand you up since it's designed for folks with limited mobility. I figured fighter cockpits have semi-recumbent seating so I gave this a try.

    My back never gets tired. An optical mouse works fine on the arms of the chair, and I switch sides to avoid RSI.

    I use my Thinkpad supported by my lap, but an ergo keyboard and monitor setup would be very easy to do. Power user

  • Most of the comment already posted are good tips. Just remember to not slavishly listen to ergonomic "experts" to the point of ignoring discomfort. People are built all different ways, and if the "correct" way starts bothering you, try something else that is more comfortable.

  • Try workrave [workrave.org], it reminds you to take breaks and stretch...
    Also it can set daily limits of computer activity...

    And you can also network it if you use multiple computers at the same time..
  • #1 Find a good osteopath [wikipedia.org]
    I've found that it doesn't matter how good your workstation is, eventually you get strains and pains. I've found that a visit to a good osteopath really helps.

    #2 Get away from your annoying co-workers
    No, really. Every time you get tense, stressed or worked up you are contributing to the various aches and pains caused by sitting in a chair.
    Wear earplugs if plugs if physical separation is not possible.
    iPod with ear phones is a good idea.
    Wear earphones with no music playing works really

  • Don't let your arms hang. Get a chair that allows the hand rests to be cranked so high that they will completely support your arms. Or then lean forward and lay your hands on the table.

    A good head/neck posture is where you look down in an angle. Get a display that you can crank low enough.

    Lighting. Some parties recommend that you should place a source of light behind your display. I have never seen this cause but eye strain. Put it side to your computer instead, maybe on top of a bookshelf. When there is da

  • TimeOut by Dejal is an app that I use that simply grays out the screen for 15 seconds every ten minutes, and for ten minutes every hour. It reminds you to look away from the screen, stretch, get up and walk, etc. I've found that while the timing of the screen-blanks is annoying (it does give you a way to "snooze" the breaks), the overall effect is that I'm happier and healthier at work.

    As for a keyboard, I use one of the new black USB Model M designs now made by Unicomp. The extra muscular effort and tactil

  • I'd like to get a great chair, keyboard, mouse, monitor, etc.

    According to the tech journalists, this is a post desktop / post laptop world. You don't want to get left behind.

    Chair: We will do all our work at home or trendy local coffee shop for meatspace meetings. So, your overstuffed recliner in the living room, and those corporate issue Starbucks chairs will do. Once the boss figures out a guy in India can work at his home just as well as you can, for a tenth the cost, you won't have to work in those chairs anymore. People in their 20s can slouch on any old cha

  • The two most important items in my office are my Model M keyboard and my big fat Logitech trackball. I've got big hands, and typing on those shitty little throwaway keyboards (you know, the identical black HP keyboard that came with everyone's tower) scrunches me up in a weird way. I have more typos, and by day's end my wrists fucking hurt. A physically larger keyboard with bigger, more spaced-out keys is such a Godsend.

    The trackball is really nice too. Hard to get used to if you've never used one before, b

  • Many people find that a vertical mouse provides a better hand/wrist position than a standard horizontal mouse. Something like the Evoluent [amazon.com] or the 3M Ergonomic [amazon.com]. There are also a number of keyboards, from partially split to fully split, that allow for more natural hand-elbow-arm position than a standard rectangular model. The Goldtouch [amazon.com] has been highly recommended by physical therapists.

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