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Ask Slashdot: What Is the Best Position To Work For Long Hours? 262 262

New submitter damitr asks: "What is the most ergonomic position if you are working with a laptop or a desktop (with or without wireless keyboard and mouse) for long hours at stretch? Is bean bag for sitting with a laptop a good option? What is the best way to use a desktop without causing tennis elbow and backache/neck problems?"
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Ask Slashdot: What Is the Best Position To Work For Long Hours?

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  • Re:none (Score:5, Informative)

    by ThatsMyNick (2004126) on Saturday August 11, 2012 @01:56PM (#40958707)

    Yeah, the simplest answer is to keep changing positions. And take a break every 30 minutes.

  • Many positions (Score:5, Informative)

    by Macman408 (1308925) on Saturday August 11, 2012 @01:56PM (#40958711)

    I have a standing desk. I find it most comfortable to use when I change my position frequently; I'll stand for a while, sit for a while, put my feet up on a cabinet for a while, go back to standing, etc. Half my postures (especially sitting) would probably make an ergonomics expert cringe. But I find it nice to change things up regularly. Sometimes I'm too lazy to stand for long, and I can tell, because my back gets sore. Once I spend a day or two standing more, I feel fine again. But only standing would never be comfortable for me either.

    Maybe if I could be walking on a treadmill... I find walking much more comfortable than standing...

  • by FriendlyLurker (50431) on Saturday August 11, 2012 @02:17PM (#40958833)
    "Standing for a long time and having increased pressure in the abdomen may make you more likely to develop varicose veins, or may make the condition worse." http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0002099/ [nih.gov]
  • Low chair (Score:5, Informative)

    by Compaqt (1758360) on Saturday August 11, 2012 @02:31PM (#40958933) Homepage

    Here's a position I can work in for 5 hours:

    Chair 17 inches from floor to what you sit on.
    Desk 30" off ground.
    Keyboard tray 25" off ground.
    Feet on a footrest 9" off ground. Or sometimes on the floor.

    I sit in highly unergonomic positions but still don't experience any pain.

    Be sure to center the F and J keys on you navel. (Don't center a whole 104-key keyboard on you navel: the numpad throws it off center.) Optionally put the mouse on the left so it's not too far off to the right (again, because of the numpad).

    The low chair allows you to keep your feet flat on the floor without bending your legs backward or feeling too much pressure on the underside of your thighs. Otherwise (with too high of a chair), your thighs are tilting downwards and you're forced to put your feet on the coaster assembly.

    Don't bother with the classic typing position of holding your arms above the keyboard parallel to it, and dropping your hands down perpendicular to the keyboard. That hurts. Rest your palms or wrist on the keyboard or a rest. (Typing teachers tell you not to do that.)

    Put your feet on the footrest, extend your legs to be straight and optionally lean back.

    The mouse should be on the same level as the keyboard (25").

  • by Roger Wilcox (776904) on Saturday August 11, 2012 @02:56PM (#40959135)

    Step 1: Get a good quality, highly adjustable chair. Lumbar and height adjustments to fit your body are a must. Set your chair to perfectly mimick the natural curves in your lower back, and sit leaning back about 15-25 degrees from upright, with both feet square on the ground in front of you. Don't slouch! Lower the armrests so you can't use them... slouching to the side is tempting and is terrible for your spinal health in the long term. Your monitor screen should be positioned directly in front of you at eye level so you don't have to strain your neck at all.

    Step 2: Stand up and stretch your legs, back, and neck at least once every two hours. I also like to go for a short walk around the office.

    Step 3: Do core strengthening for your lower back 2-3 times per week. It doesn't need to be a complicated ordeal; light calisthenics for 10 minutes will keep you in much better shape than no exercise at all. Bridges, supermans, leg raises, and crunches all factor into my routine, and there are many variations on each so I like to switch it up. My only equipment is one of those inflatable exercise balls. You may want to visit a professional physical therapist to ensure you are getting the most out of your workouts.

    Following something like the above plan is almost necessary for anyone sitting long hours in front of a screen each day. For me, with my tall narrow body shape, it is doubly so. I manage to get by with minimal discomfort using this plan. If I get lazy for a few months, sit slouchy and neglect the exercise, I pay with constant discomfort. The difference is huge.

  • Ugly veins? (Score:5, Informative)

    by overshoot (39700) on Saturday August 11, 2012 @03:19PM (#40959333)

    I am choosing to live with ugly veins.

    Not just ugly. Varicose veins divert returning blood to recirculate and pool in the lower legs. Consequences can include blood clots, edema, and (in my case) tissue necrosis leading to ruptured Achilles tendons.

  • variety (Score:4, Informative)

    by dbc (135354) on Saturday August 11, 2012 @06:04PM (#40960257)

    A recent news article (sorry, don't have link) reported that a recent medical study shows that heath risk rises dramatically if you sit for more than 3 hours a day. Wow! Getting under 3 hours a day of sitting is tough to do as an office drone of any kind.

    If you can, get an adjustable desk. My wife has issues (pinched nerve) that caused us to invest in a computer desk with a motorized mechanism to raise and lower the top. It is really slick. My advice would be to sit as little as possible, work standing up as much as possible, and generally have the option of selecting from multiple ergonomically correct work positions. A motorized desk greatly facilitates those kinds of adjustments. We bought a complete desk unit, but after doing that I found that the manufacturer will sell you just the leg/motor/controller parts so that you can slap a custom top of your own onto it. The controller can handle up to 3 legs, so you can do large L-shaped tops and what-not.

    Also, get rid of your visitor chair. If someone needs to talk at the whiteboard, both of you should stand. I bet the meetings will be shorter and more focussed :) Years ago I worked for a V.P. whose personal conference room was arranged with a stand-up conference table and zero chairs. It worked wonders for his schedule -- nobody lingered after the work was done.

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