As a Marketing Manager, I spend a lot of my life using Photoshop. After suffering from reoccurring shoulder pain, I deduced that something wasn’t quite right with my workspace set up.
A lot of Designers that we see present with back and shoulder pain associated with their workstation so I wanted to share my first-hand experience of finding a comfortable workstation.
Just a few caveats before I begin:
- Consult your GP if you have any reoccurring pain
- Review bad habits that even a fantastic workstation can’t combat (slouchers, not drinking enough water, stress levels)
- Start a conversation with your employer so that they can better understand the situation. If your computer was broken it would seriously hinder your productivity – Not being able to move your shoulder won’t be conducive to a healthy work output
- Invest in your overall health & fitness. I’ve found that swimming works wonders both in a therapeutic and preventative capacity.
Find the right mouse
Working for Posture People, naturally, I have tried and tested all the latest ergonomic products. In my opinion, the most important tool for any Designer is the mouse. As a profession, we tend to be a bit of a fussy bunch. We all have our personal preferences, cursor speeds, left-handed or right-handed and whether it’s Apple or not…
If you spend a lot of time on the Adobe suite, you will notice that you click and drag your mouse in and away from your body repetitively – now think about how much you are moving your shoulder. Doing this day in, day out for me was the source of niggling shoulder pain and a back that I just couldn’t ‘unlock’.
Using the Rollermouse Free3 has significantly reduced the amount of repetitive arm and shoulder movement and pain. Another feature that I really like about this mouse is its palm rest. This ensures that my hands stay in a comfortable neutral position which is great for typing up these blog posts.
Compared to the uncomfortable solid edge of my MacBook Pro, the Rollermouse has certainly won me over. It might take a little bit of time getting used to after using a traditional mouse for so long, but I’ve personally found it quite intuitive and if anything more accurate. Especially with the ability to adjust my cursor speed at the press of a button.
Make sure your screen is just right
If you’re anything like me, the first thing I look for in a screen is colour calibration, size, and glare. I wouldn’t have even thought about the height or distance until my colleague pointed out to me how much I was dropping my neck to look at the screen. A simple way to measure this is to put your arms out in front of you. The right distance should be at arm’s length, and the top of your screen should be In-line with your eyebrows to achieve the right height.
In addition to the prolific use of smartphones, dropping our necks to look at screens is starting to cause all types of postural issues and back pain, which is frustrating for the chiropractors we speak to as it’s such an easy thing to prevent by bringing our screens up to eye height.
I have a standing desk (which I’ll get to later) so I find I need to alter my screen height when I’m sitting and standing. I started off using simple LeBloc screen risers but they weren’t quite as flexible as I needed. I often spin my screen around to talk about something that I am working on and alter the screen depth if I’m working with a lot of paper, so the MXV monitor arm has been perfect for me.
*Worth mentioning here as well: If you are struggling to see your screen or squinting, make sure you book an eye test as you will often lean forward to see the screen.
I think the nation is catching on to the ideas of standing desks. A staple across Scandinavia, standing desks don’t just allow you to move more and change your posture, but also means that I can make my desk the perfect height when I’m sat down. I often get asked how much I use it, but it’s hard to quantify. For me, it really depends on my workload, what kind of tasks I’ve set myself and whether I’ve had a good night’s sleep or not.
When I am designing something, I like to stand. I’m not entirely sure why, but it really helps me to focus and feel a bit more creative. The same goes for meetings and collaborative work where I think there’s an element of ‘thinking on your feet’. When I’m writing or it’s turned out to be an admin sort of day, I find myself sitting down more as I have associated it with focus work.
Ideally, try and sit for 30 minutes and stand for 30; used in conjunction with a Pomerado method timer for switching tasks, this can seriously help you to increase your productivity if you are feeling a lull.
Honourable mention goes to…
I don’t know how anyone lives without a copyholder. If you reference any paperwork or books make sure that you get a copyholder to stop you from dropping your neck down. It also saves you a lot of desk space – win-win.
The I-Work chair
We all have our own personal favourites here. For me, it was a close call between the Herman Miller Sayl and the I-Work chair. At the moment, I’m using the I-Work day in day out. It’s flexible back is supportive and promotes more movement throughout the day. The arms have more flexibility in them than any on the market making it perfect for people that struggle with shoulder pain.