Workplace ergonomics

Published: Sat Sep 25 2021


On a daily basis I spend anywhere between 8 to 14 hours in front of a computer screen. Sitting for the entire day throughout multiple weeks, months, years is bound to create problems. Ever since I started experiencing pain just from working on the computer, I have decided to test out various options to ease, or better, mitigate the pain.

For me, the major problems were wrist pain, forearm pain, shoulder pain and back pain. At the time, I had a relatively simple chair from XXXLutz (a similar shop to IKEA for those unfamiliar) for around $200. It was pretty OK, especially before COVID-19 hit, but once I started spending the whole week sitting in one chair, it didn’t hold up.

The story of swapping stuff around

Firstly I bought a gym ball and tried alternating between it and the chair. (Un)surprisingly, the gym ball sucked and the lower-back pain was even worse than from the chair. After that experience, I decided I would get myself a good chair. After reading many reviews I decided that the Herman Miller Mirra 2 was the chair for me, so, naturally, I purchased it. At first, it felt like a big upgrade, but after long-term use, the back pain didn’t go away, just moved to a different area. The ideal sitting position – as recommended by YouTube doctors also didn’t fit me, as I found I actually like alternating between different sitting positions a lot, which was slightly challenging in the Mirra… So what now?

Well, long story short, I sold the Mirra, got a standing desk and a stool from IKEA instead. Again, at first it seemed like an upgrade, but just sitting on a stool or standing for the whole day also didn’t feel too good after a week or so, so I added the original XXXLutz chair back into the mix.

Adding the chair back, I realized what I actually needed wasn’t a stool, but a chair that would fit my sitting style, so that I could comfortably alternate between standing and sitting. I looked around local online second-hand eshops, and found a Steelcase Leap v2 in good condition for a bargain (I believe it was around $150), which supports the different sitting positions I switch between on a daily. It also eliminated my back pain. However, shoulder pain and wrist pain still persisted.

To help with the shoulder and wrist pain, I now alternate between two mice (the MX Master 3 and MX Vertical from Logitech) and a trackpad throughout the day, which has improved things a lot, although things unfortunately still aren’t perfect.

Other major factors

Other factors that helped my journey were and still are; stretching (don’t take this one lightly) as well as the getting up and walking around, grabbing a coffee during the day.

I would say that all of these small changes improved my experience much more than all the gear I have swapped in and out, however, I don’t think it was a bad investment.

If you are a person who spends most of their day stationary in front of a desk, I highly recommend going through the process of choosing what things make you most comfortable while working, as well as incorporating small breaks during the day for light physical activity. For that, something as simple as the pomodoro technique could come in handy