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Working on the computer all day - what do you sit on?  RSS feed

 
Destiny Hagest
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This is going to sound nuts, but after 16 months, I've been able to work without a baby in my lap, outside of my squishy nursing chair. I've suffered some insane neck and shoulder pain as a result of nursing while working for so long, but now that my toddler is becoming more independent, I can sit ALONE!!! **happy dance**



I telecommute (as some of you may know), and spend a lot of time on my computer in a day. My current setup is a really super old and uncomfortable wooden dining room chair I salvaged from a delapidated house out in the woods, at a teeny little wobbly accent table under the stairs in my living room. I feel like Harry Potter up in here.

I'm almost to the point where I think I can get away with working in an actual in-home office (albeit one with toys and finger paints), so I'm looking to ergonomic-up my situation here. I often end up sprawled on the couch with my laptop in my lap late at night while I work, and the whole thing is just not super comfortable no matter how I sit.

So what do you sit on at your desk? Do I need some big crazy fancy desk chair? I've heard of standing desks, but being on my feet in the same position for hours at a time does not sound appealing either. I know some people use exercise balls - any thoughts on that?

I currently work on a MacBook, but may work up to at least having an extra monitor in the next year, if not a complete desktop setup. We shall see. In the meantime, what the heck do I sit on?
 
David Livingston
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solid pine chair 4€ thrift shop
 
K Putnam
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I am a massage therapist and your situation describes 85% of my clients. The other 15% do manual labor.   Sitting for long periods is causing an honest-to-god health crisis.

I have a few clients who have gone to adjustable desks and absolutely love them.   Now, I do not think it is necessary to go spend a lot of money.  If you have a laptop, it seems like you could easily devise two simple workstations, one standing, one sitting, and alternate between the two throughout the day.  

I'm not sure where I saw it or I would link to it, but there is a study out there that basically says the stability balls do not help reduce discomfort. They seem like a good idea, but people are not getting the results.

I would also incorporate some exercise that involves upper back extension, i.e. "swan" in pilates or "upward dog" in yoga and make sure to incorporate some extension in your life on a daily basis.  We are all spending so much time in spinal flexion, most of us need some quality, gentle extension to balance it all out.
 
John Weiland
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I can't really vouch for one chair over another, but this particular one comes well-recommended for the price and is similar to many we have in our office space:  https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0046H56JS/ref=s9_acsd_hps_bw_c_x_1?th=1

Our ergonomics component here at work simply recommends frequent breaks with stretching, walking around, adjusting eyes on far-away places, etc. to reduce strain and face-time with the monitor.  For a home-office solution, I would get a wheeled chair along the lines of the one shown and one of those floor pads if you don't want to mar your floor surface with the wheels.  Then, and I don't have the information in front of me, get your chair, keyboard, and monitor heights adjusted for best performance and least fatigue.  And yes, I would invest in one of those micro-form-factor computers with a separate monitor and keyboard (if you wish to stick with Mac, do either a Mac mini or iMac with separate keyboard)....all very lightweight and minimalist.  We use only laptops at home now for the main connected computer since if they go wonky it's really easy just to fold it up and bring it in to a professional repair service (of which there are many at the moment) but we don't need to be sitting at the station as much as you may need to.

As a telecommuter, perhaps you can recommend something back to me:  My trusty G4 Powerbook may have died....too many instances of me nodding off in bed and the unit crashing to the floor.  The power cord plug and inlet port got bent the last time...    Yet I only use it for word processing text files between mac and pc, but like the large screen (and I don't need it network connected by either wifi or cable).  Solutions for under $150.00?.....(both mac and pc acceptable)
 
Steven Kovacs
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I stand 90% of the time and love it.  Standing isn't as nearly good as moving around and DOING things with your body, but it's much better than sitting all the time in my experience.

Whatever you do, I very strongly suggest you make sure that your setup is somewhat adjustable and that you get the spacing and angles of the keyboard, monitor, etc. correct for you.  Tiny misalignments like having your monitor slightly too high can lead to neck pain, wrist pain, etc.
 
Destiny Hagest
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I really need to work on elevating my monitor for sure. I think I'm going to opt for a desk set up, but with 5 minute stretches every hour or so. But I can feel my neck tensing up looking down at my laptop all the time. I may break out the old bluetooth keyboard and set my MacBook up on a stack of books or something.
 
Denise Kersting
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I telecommute too, and I rotate between the exercise ball and an ergonomic office chair. Last job I had, I tried the standing desk and hated it. My feet, back, everything hurt, granted that was on a cement slab with thin office carpet and no padding. I also felt like I couldn't concentrate like I do when I sit down to a desk, maybe a mental thing. The exercise ball is nice for a change, but vinyl against skin (even clothed) sweats and gets hot, and can become uncomfortable. I haven't found a perfect solution yet, my set-up doesn't allow for quick height changes...docking station, laptop, 2 monitors, and keyboard. So I'm kinda stuck sitting for now. Good luck and if you find great solution please share!!
 
John Weiland
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@Destiny H: "I may break out the old bluetooth keyboard and set my MacBook up on a stack of books or something."

As an additional aid to your eyes it may be good to use the MacBook as a temporary CPU in this manner.....Bluetooth keyboard and added external and larger monitor that would tether out from the HDMI(?) or equivalent port on that laptop.  You could borrow a monitor from someone to see if it would make sufficient difference in your comfort level while at the workstation.
 
Rufus Laggren
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Sitting and staring at screens... Merciless pitiless self destruction.

Anyway. I tried kneeling chairs. So so. My knees ended up hurting. My take is they're worth trying but you're going to have to be able to adjust it and quality (or plentiful) gel or foam  for both the butt and the knees will be necessary if it's going to work long term. This is an area where "bells & whistles" just might live up to their hype. Ie. added back rests, arm supports, easy pump-to-change heights, etc. Might look see if Lazy-Boy has anything.

As Steven above, adjustability is not optional because we're all different and even different from ourselves yesterday...

"Secretary chairs" are actually pretty good, but again gotta have adjustments. And try before you buy. If you find something that "works", pay for it - it's worth it.

At one time I did term papers in an old square well padded leather chair w/big flat arms that I placed a shelf board over. W/camel saddle for foot rest. But that was then, don't know how it'd do now.


Good luck. Be sure to share if you find anything wonderful. <g>


Rufus
 
Destiny Hagest
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John Weiland wrote:@Destiny H: "I may break out the old bluetooth keyboard and set my MacBook up on a stack of books or something."

As an additional aid to your eyes it may be good to use the MacBook as a temporary CPU in this manner.....Bluetooth keyboard and added external and larger monitor that would tether out from the HDMI(?) or equivalent port on that laptop.  You could borrow a monitor from someone to see if it would make sufficient difference in your comfort level while at the workstation.


I'm actually in the market for a second monitor come spring - I want to make sure my work is lucrative enough to justify the expense by the, but my multitasking seems to be reaching new heights lately, and so I'll be buying another monitor anyway. I thought about using my laptop as a CPU, but I'd rather have access to both.

I've been looking into some really nice laptop stands that have cord keeper and such, but for now I think I just need to do what works, so stack of books it is. Another challenge though is that my workstation needs to be downstairs, so I can keep an eye on my toddler, and real estate is definitely limited here. It's challenging, I really can't have a dedicated office, until I have the option to flit between a laptop and desktop setup.
 
Claire Green
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I made myself a standing desk just using various cardboard boxes to elevate my keyboard, monitor and mouse. I draped a thin cloth over it to make it look more presentable. I work part time..4 to 6 hours a day, and it took about 3 months to adapt to standing most of the time as opposed to sitting. I stillhave a laptop and alternate back and forth, but do stand most of the day.
It has made a huge differnce in how I feel.

I also recently added this to stand on, was amazingly easy to adapt to, but did need to raise everythign by about 4 inches. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00ZEDD8OI/ref=s9_acsd_hps_bw_c_x_3
I do not stand on it all day, but alternate.  Looking up at my monitor when i stand on the floor without it, is helpful I find, instead of always looking straight on or down if working on my laptop. 

I have one of those yoga balls, and I use that now for lying on to extend my back (like a supported back bend), helps reverse all that slumping we do!

Good luck!
 
John Duffy
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Destiny, I highly recommend this cushion made by Medline   MSCEQBAL1818  It is the most unbelievable cushion I have ever used. You can literally sit on a key ring full of keys on this cushion and you will NOT feel them. I am a middle-aged guy with  not a lot of  rear-end to sit on. This cushion is your ticket!
 
Rhonda Crank
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Hey there, I feel ya. I do a combo of sitting in an office chair at a table (used as a desk). I chose a chair which allows me to lean back and even rock. I got it on Amazon for $86 and I also use a folding laptop table stand. I put it on the table (the one I use as a desk) and stand to work. I really do find standing to work relieves much of the pains I get from sitting too long. I alternate every few hours and it has helped a lot!  Good luck and Congrats on being able to sit alone! LOL
 
Destiny Hagest
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Thank you everyone for your suggestions, wow!! I'm a cheap skate though, and I can't help but think if I just got up every hour or two I could avoid most of these problems (short of the neck tension - for that I just need to elevate my screen).

I picked up a cheap desk chair in town, so at least on the occasion when my husband lets me sneak away upstairs to work, I can just sit at my sewing table with my laptop. For now though, it looks like I'm still just bouncing between couch and dining room table so I can let my toddler play while I peek through my inbox.
 
Kota Tsuki
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Destiny, I know how you feel. I myself used to spend a lot of time on office chairs watching at screens.
I tried those ergonomical chairs, where you sit partly on your knees, but I was not too pleased with them.
At home I often sit on Floor chairs, or zaisu as we call them in Japan. I personally feel like it allows for a
better posture. Then again, I am used to sitting on the ground, as it is part of my culture, not sure if it is recommendable for everyone.
 
Destiny Hagest
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I have considered using a low table as a sort of 'floor desk'! I never did find a realistic option for myself. I just get up and stretch every hour, grab some water or whatever, to break up the muscle monotony.

We're floor sleepers anyway, so I'm wondering if just a mat (we have hardwoods) and a low desk might be worth a try!
 
Amit Enventres
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I have 2-3 chairs in my office. One is a kneeling chair. Sometimes I kneel, sometimes I squat, sometimes I turn it around and sit at that odd angle. It keeps me switching positions because nothing is real comfortable, which is more comfortable in the long run than letting my muscles relax all day and then being too week to use properly. The second chair is a big comfy armrestless chair. I can slouch when I'm feeling lazy and even kick up my legs on the kneeling chair. I can also sit cross legged, like I would on the floor, or even sit "normally". Sometimes I'll turn the chair at an angle and sit on it sideways, or lean over it backwards, but usually with the office door closed because it doesn't look real professional. I also have my monitor at high enough that if I wanted to stand, I could still look at it, just tilt the monitor a little up and I'm good to go. I still hate the sitting all day, but atleast it's not as detrimental to my health with the switch ups in position.
 
Amit Enventres
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Oh, and the last chair has a massage pad on it, because that helps keep me seated a little longer.
 
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