Hello Fellow Storytellers!
In our quest to tell our stories and be creative, I think many of us artistic types often forget one of the most important aspects of our jobs and that is maintaining our health. I am one of many that are guilty of being so involved in work (what can I say, I love what I do), that I often ignore signs of pain and fatigue until someone else notices and slaps me upside the head. And that is pretty much what happened when one of my superiors noticed my wrist braces while I was working. I am lucky enough to be working in a facility that works with an ergonomics consultant. It turns out that my positioning was wrong, the chair didn’t fit me right, the computer setup was not optimal for reducing strain and as a result, my body is a mess of pain and aches that I am still working to repair the damage that I have done. Here are some tips that I thought I would share for creating the optimal editing workspace for your health.
A regular mouse angles your wrist in an unnatural position and I am often working many long hours with my hand on the mouse. The solution I have found that works for me is a Vertical Mouse. It holds my wrist in a neutral position that keeps me from bending it at the wrist joint (which is part of the source of my pain). It also only takes about a day to get used to and I can’t afford to let anything slow down my editing.
Some people also love to use a Graphics Tablet. It depends on who you ask.
A FLAT KEYBOARD
While consulting with the Ergonomics specialist, he was going to order me one of those curved ergonomic keyboards. I explained to him that as an editor, I need to be able to access the entire keyboard with one hand. He thought for a second and then told me that I needed to use a flat keyboard instead of one that angles upward. Never use the little elevation tabs on the bottom. An angled keyboard makes it more difficult to keep the wrist straight (bent wrist=strain=pain). Several editors also use a programmable small gaming pad instead of a typical keyboard.
Since I am often moved around edit bays on a daily basis, I can’t install any custom software drivers, so the flat keyboard is the best option for me.
A good chair is very important to help maintain positioning and provide support for your back, (especially the lower back). Do not use the armrests while working, keep them low. They can be used for taking breaks. Each person’s body is different, so there is no universal chair that will work for everyone. Or you can forget the chair and go with…
There are several editors who stand while working. It is something that takes time to get used to but some say it helps with their energy levels and focus. It is still important to maintain good leg positioning. An anti-fatigue mat is also recommended for those who stand. It is basically a padded mat.
The ergonomist did warn that too much of sitting or standing is not good and a combination of both is best for our bodies.
I use 3 monitors every day (2 computer monitors and 1 broadcast client monitor). It strains the eyes, neck and shoulders if they aren’t in the right position. Ideally, they should be arms length distance from your face and the top of the monitor should line up with your eyes. Unfortunately, I can’t always put the monitors I work with in the perfect position because of the type of desk I am working on, but I do my best and try to be very aware of the strain I am putting on my neck and eyes.
I am short. My short legs often dangle off of my chair as I adjust the chair to work with the desk height. This is bad for the circulation in my legs. I use a moving stool that I adjust so that my feet are flat and my knees are at a 90 degree angle. The legs should not touch underneath the desk. The backs of thighs should not touch the end of the chair seat. Since my stool also moves, I often wiggle my feet back and forth to help with my circulation. Aaaahhh, I have feeling in my legs again.
-Arms should not be touching any surface (desk or armrests), place your keyboard and mouse at the edge of the desk to help with this
-Elbows at 90 degree angle
-Feet flat, knees at 90 degree angle
-Back straight and upright (no slouching)
Even though these are proper positions to improve my ergonomic health, I am always reminding myself to move my body as well. We are not meant to stay in a rigid position for hours on end. Exercise, stretching and moving the body will do wonders. I am still recovering from my ergonomic mistakes but I want to have a long career, so I have taken my new knowledge very seriously.
Happy and Healthy Editing!