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

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the no-single-best-answer dept.

Displays 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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262 comments

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missionary. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40958601)

What were you thinking?

Re:missionary. (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40958857)

Oh, no.

COWGIRL

Let her do all the work while you relax.

Re:missionary. (4, Funny)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 2 years ago | (#40959251)

missionary.

That kind of work never takes hours.

In fact, if I go more than 2 minutes I play the Rocky theme and announce it on Twitter.

Of course, it might take longer if there was a woman here to distract me.

none (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40958617)

there is no positition such that sitting still in it for a long time wont cause problems.

Re:none (5, Informative)

ThatsMyNick (2004126) | more than 2 years ago | (#40958707)

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

Low chair (4, Informative)

Compaqt (1758360) | more than 2 years ago | (#40958933)

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").

Re:Low chair (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40959021)

All good advice. Keep in mind the actual measurements will vary according to the person's height.

Re:Low chair (2)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#40959353)

At work I have a setup kinda similar to yours. It also helped that I lost weight, as a lot of my backache came from my stomach pulling downward.

At home I do my best work in bed. LCD screen on an arm hovering in my view, keyboard in my lap (though I'm mostly reading so don't use it that much), TV in front of me so I don't get bored.

Re:none (4, Interesting)

TheLink (130905) | more than 2 years ago | (#40958955)

Here's what I think - hospital reclined bed position with the fancy anti-bedsore mattresses, if patients can survive that for hours, office workers can. The usual office chairs and fancy "modern ergonomics" are bullshit[1] - it's amazing how after thousands of years of making chairs, decent comfortable ones are still so expensive.

As for that standing fad, there's plenty of evidence that prolonged standing causes problems. Simple rule of thumb, if it hurts don't keep doing it for a long time.

Keep in mind the minimum amount of exercise to maintain reasonable health, supposedly short high intensity exercise is more time efficient. I won't be surprised if it's true - since most animals don't spend hours fighting or running. It's just a short high intense burst up to a max of a few minutes, then
a) either they die or they survive to live another day.
b) they catch and eat what they are chasing for dinner.

So put it all together and perhaps we should recline while doing "office work", then every now and then walk about for a bit and then do very fast sprints. ;)

[1] http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/6187080.stm [bbc.co.uk]
Seems to imply they only tested up to 135 and said it was least pronounced at 135. While it does show that sitting up straight does put more stress (despite those stupid claims of sitting up straight being good), if they didn't test 180 (or more) then their study is still flawed isn't it?

Re:none (4, Insightful)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 2 years ago | (#40959275)

You call bullshit on something you know nothing about, and back it up with an article that cites a member of the British Chiropractic Association as if they were an authority rather than (as has been legally proven) a bunch of quacks and charlatans..

I'll send you the bill for a new irony meter. The needle on my old one is shaped like a hairpin.

Re:none (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 2 years ago | (#40959377)

I said their study was flawed. Perhaps I used a bad example, but the other "ergonomic" studies I saw didn't even provide much proof for why their chair/position is better.

If you bother to read my post, you'd see I'd prefer the "reclined hospital bed position". So far patients still do get bed sores (after very long periods), but they sure don't get injured as rapidly from those beds as office workers get from their crappy office chairs. If they did, the hospitals will get sued even more. So that's my justification. Weak as it is, it seems better than the ones those "experts" give.

Re:none (1)

QuietLagoon (813062) | more than 2 years ago | (#40959255)

mod up the parent, please. One should never stay in the same position for an extended period of time. Move around, change positions, don't take root like a vegetable.

Re:none (2)

BigDukeSix (832501) | more than 2 years ago | (#40959341)

It is important to change positions in the correct way. If it's your lower back that starts hurting, you should switch chairs, stand up, or otherwise change your seating position. Everyone has favorite ways of dealing with this, or you simply don't become a computer geek.

The upper back and neck are a different story. Pain in these muscle groups is related to bad arm mechanics and is only partially related to your chair selection. You also need to change the height of your keyboard and mouse relative to your shoulders, so that at least some of the time your elbows are not hanging below your wrists.

This is especially important if you use your mouse a lot. Many people, over time, start to relax their shoulder muscles such that your wrist, sitting on your desk, becomes a primary support for the weight of your arm while only the hand moves freely. The elbow and arm then pull down on the shoulder joint, stretching the shoulder ligaments and eventually stretching the 11th cranial nerve. You feel this as the awful aching pain at the junction of the shoulder and neck, as well as between the shoulder blade and spine (the trapezius muscle is the downstream target of this nerve). I have heard this called "mouse shoulder."

To combat this you should try to have your elbow and wrist supported at the same height, like on a side table. Varying your chair height then varies your arm mechanics quite a bit.

Re:none (2)

erroneus (253617) | more than 2 years ago | (#40959363)

While I generally agree with the notion, recently, I have been travelling by car a lot and have found sitting in one position for longer times increasingly easier.

I think there may be something to taking breaks and all that, but also, POSTURE is an important aspect. And in order to maintain posture, muscle tone, weight and other factors also come into play. Posture is important for blood flow for example and I'll just go to the bathroom for a great example of good versus bad posture. Some toilets are higher than others. I have found that the higher ones (at least for my own height) can be sat upon more comfortably for longer periods of time. The short ones tend to result in lower circulation to one or both of my legs. But this posture thing doesn't only work for legs but the whole body and not only for the circulatory systems but the nervous systems as well.

I guess what I'm getting at is that there is less need for breaks and changing positions if the position you are in is optimal for your size... and if your size is optimal.

So, live at a healthy weight and muscle tone to keep the body's joints and other parts in alignment for good circulation and sensation. And sit in things that are the correct size for yourself and consciously make a habit of sitting with good posture. Once those things are addressed, being able to sit and focus for longer periods of time becomes much easier. I had no idea how badly I was doing it until I accidentally started doing things more correctly. Once I realized what I had done, my efforts become more conscious and effective.

swiss missionary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40958619)

I love sitting on a Swiss Ball, aka Exerball or whatever. Otherwise, the Missionary Position (TM) is awesome.

Re:swiss missionary (2)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 2 years ago | (#40958799)

I love sitting on a Swiss Ball, aka Exerball or whatever. Otherwise, the Missionary Position (TM) is awesome.

And here's the computer mounting apparatus for use in the missionary position:

http://www.pcmag.com/slideshow_viewer/0,3253,l%253D222445%2526a%253D222436%2526po%253D1,00.asp?p=n [pcmag.com]

Re:swiss missionary (1)

aaarrrgggh (9205) | more than 2 years ago | (#40959015)

I use a ball at work for going on three years. Make sure to use the right size one You need to build core strength and avoid sitting like a cheese doodle. Standing, doing a plank every so often, and rolling shoulders/stretching chest are also important.

For tennis elbow, use a strong rubber band around all five fingers and spread your fingers out.

The zero-g chairs may reduce back stress, but they don't build a healthy back. It is important to understand the difference.

Standing Desk setup (5, Interesting)

Bananatree3 (872975) | more than 2 years ago | (#40958625)

Here is a log of a 3-week experiment [fastfedora.com] using a stand up desk. FYI for comparison.

Asking for varicose veins? (4, Informative)

FriendlyLurker (50431) | more than 2 years ago | (#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]

Re:Asking for varicose veins? (2)

ArhcAngel (247594) | more than 2 years ago | (#40958945)

If I am making a choice between varicose veins and blood clots [sciencedaily.com] I am choosing to live with ugly veins.

Ugly veins? (5, Informative)

overshoot (39700) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:Asking for varicose veins? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40958959)

And sitting leads to blood clots that can get to your brain and cause a stroke. And eating leads to heart disease. And crossing the road leads to spattedness.

I HAVE varicose veins (1)

overshoot (39700) | more than 2 years ago | (#40959315)

... and they didn't come from working standing up.

However, using a stepper to work the leg muscles will reverse the effect: increase deep veinous circulation to better than sitting. Best of all, use compression stockings to force blood up out of the legs -- whether you work sitting or standing.

Re:Standing Desk setup (2)

Bogtha (906264) | more than 2 years ago | (#40958867)

I've been using a standing desk for about a year now. I like it. With a chair, it's all too easy to be glued in place without moving a muscle for hours at a time. With a standing desk, you do tend to shift your weight around a bit from time to time. I don't tend to stand up all day. I have a stool that I sit on for about a quarter of the time, so I alternate between standing and sitting every so often. When I've been standing for a while, it feels good to change to sitting, and when I've been sitting down for a while, it feels good to change to standing. I don't get sore legs or feet. Chances are, if you get sore from standing around for a couple of hours, you could do with exercising those muscles more anyway.

Re:Standing Desk setup (1)

oakgrove (845019) | more than 2 years ago | (#40959335)

As crazy as it sounds when I really get "in the zone" on a project I'm working on at the computer, my physical sensitivity drops through the floor. I didn't realize how dangerous that could be until a little while back I sat with my forearm flat on the desk for so long I lost circulation in my pinky and didn't notice for about 6 hours when the tingling sensation finally broke through. For about a week, the tip of that finger was purple and you could see little blood splotches at the end of the fingernail. Now I set an alarm every hour to get up and move around.

Re:Standing Desk setup (1)

thesandtiger (819476) | more than 2 years ago | (#40959415)

Yeah, I like my standing set-up, too. I tend to dance around a bit, sort of stretch, do leg lifts and such while I'm working, and I really don't even have to think about it. In addition, I do multiple muscle tension exercises as well - tightening my abs and stuff like that.

I'm considering adding a treadmill to the mix as well - for the times when I'm not too focused to be able to walk, walking and reading web stuff would be brilliant.

Obviously that set-up won't work for everyone, or in every office, but I find that with good shoes and a proper anti-fatigue mat I am quite easily able to stand for 5-10 hours (with appropriate breaks from being at my desk, of course) without an issue.

I've also noticed that I feel healthier in general and tend to have more energy. It was a relatively easy thing to get used to (took me less than a week before I didn't feel like I wanted to have a chair around for a safety net) and was extremely cheap to set up. A win all around.

The only downside I have found is that if I don't wear shoes (I use this at home and work) my feet can hurt a fair amount at the end of the day. So I just wear a pair of clogs while I'm standing and it's great.

What Is the Best Position To Work For Long Hours? (0)

atomicxblue (1077017) | more than 2 years ago | (#40958637)

[Insert mildly, sexually suggestive innuendo here]

Re:What Is the Best Position To Work For Long Hour (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40958795)

A high-paying one!

Recumbent. (4, Interesting)

couchslug (175151) | more than 2 years ago | (#40958645)

There is good reason modern jet fighters have recumbent seating, and it's not just for G forces.

I inherited a power recliner and can spend many hours surfing in it with zero discomfort.

Re:Recumbent. (1)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 2 years ago | (#40958801)

There is good reason modern jet fighters have recumbent seating, and it's not just for G forces.

I inherited a power recliner and can spend many hours surfing in it with zero discomfort.

The most comfortable position for your body isn't necessarily the one that's best for your body.

Standing (or sit-stand) workstations are getting a lot of press as being better for your health:

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/02/23/stand-up-while-you-read-this/ [nytimes.com]

Re:Recumbent. (0)

couchslug (175151) | more than 2 years ago | (#40958835)

YMMV.

Standing isn't better for my trashed discs and scoliosis.

Re:Recumbent. (2, Insightful)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 2 years ago | (#40958891)

Only if you don't bother getting any other exercise throughout the day. If you're the kind of person who gets regular exercise outside of work, you probably won't mind sitting down for a few hours at work. Standing at work is better than sitting at a desk and then walking to your car, sitting in your car, walking to your couch and sitting on your couch. But no amount of standing will make up for real exercise. Also, I remember that last time I had a job where I spend 8 hour days on my feet, I would come home with some pretty tired legs at the end of the day, and didn't want to do any real exercise. So while my legs may have been building some muscle, I don't think my heart and lungs ever got a work out.

Re:Recumbent. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40959045)

That's only true because most chairs and the posture they allow/encourage are crap (look at their example photo - terrible postures for working). Quite disappointing really, you'd think people would have figured out how to make good chairs by now.

If lying down or reclining was bad for your back and standing was good, why don't you go set things up so you sleep in a standing position for hours. See how well that works out for you.

Not all lying down is good of course - mattresses that are too soft are bad. A decent mattress makes a huge difference.

Comfortable is good - it certainly does not strain your back, but you can't stay reclined for too long otherwise you lose bone density and strength. That's why you have to get up, walk and exercise.

see a physical therapist (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40958651)

From what I can find, there is no ergonomic position to sit for long hours. We didn't evolve to sit at a desk after all.

The only thing I've ever found is that you MUST get up every 20 minutes or so and walk around and stretch. And get adequate eercise during the day. And there are a bunch of tips around the web.

Here's the rub - if you're working that much then you probably don't have enough time to get enough exercise.

Modern life is unhealthy - mentally and physically.

Re:see a physical therapist (1)

Cederic (9623) | more than 2 years ago | (#40959235)

The only thing I've ever found is that you MUST get up every 20 minutes or so and walk around and stretch.

When gaming I can do 20 hours without standing up. (Then I have to limp to the toilet).

Changing position regularly is something I find essential, but getting up? Just not necessary. Shifting from leaning right to leaning left gives a whole other bunch of muscles something to do.

Then again, I'm about to go dancing for five hours, so I don't worry quite as much about exercise during the day. And I've had a broken foot since April which is definitely hampering my desire to walk about.

missionary (1)

pointyhat (2649443) | more than 2 years ago | (#40958659)

Missionary!

Re:missionary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40958739)

Reverse cowboy surely

Supine (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40958663)

On your back is best IMHO

Sport (1)

cowboy76Spain (815442) | more than 2 years ago | (#40958669)

Apart from the position, it is always do some regular exercise so your muscles can stand your weight better.

Also, don't forget to move a little (even if it is just goig to the water cooler) once in a while.

switch chairs frequently (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40958671)

i have a desktop chair and a recliner. i switch back and forth between the two. usually the desk in the morning, and the recliner in the evening. work is still done

I wish there was an easy answer to this... (1)

jimicus (737525) | more than 2 years ago | (#40958675)

There's no such thing as a simple answer to this. Yes, you should sit with your back and legs straight - but it turns out that if you encounter any problems, there's no magic way to sit that will solve them.

This is why good quality office chairs are adjustable in various ways - you're expected to adjust the various bits to suit your own body and what feels comfortable to you.

Re:I wish there was an easy answer to this... (1)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 2 years ago | (#40959231)

This is why good quality office chairs are adjustable in various ways - you're expected to adjust the various bits to suit your own body and what feels comfortable to you.

And not just once. It's not a matter of buying it and adjusting it "so it's just right for me." If you later start feeling fatigued in some way, you adjust it again. Maybe a few times a day, if it seems necessary. The human body just was not meant to sit upright and tense, arms outward, for long periods of time. Any furniture that's labeled "ergonomic" but isn't adjustable is putting you on.

There is only one way.. (1)

3seas (184403) | more than 2 years ago | (#40958701)

get an interface implant directly to your brain. Wired or wireless, though wired be sure to give your self enough cord to get to the fridge and bath room.

The downside is you may get sudden mental crashes.

Many positions (4, Informative)

Macman408 (1308925) | more than 2 years ago | (#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...

Re:Many positions (2)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | more than 2 years ago | (#40958873)

Yes, switching positions is the best. I have a 27" monitor mounted on this arm [amazon.com] . I swing it between a standing and sitting position. I cycle through about two hours standing and one hour sitting.

I have a padded knee/shin brace for the standing position to steady my stance, and make it more comfortable.

For sitting, I have a recumbent chair, so I am almost laying down when I use it. Most of the pressure is on my back and thighs rather than my butt.

The best position is many (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40958721)

One thing I've learned over the years is that there is no best position. You want to change positions throughout the day -- squatting (i.e., no chair), slightly reclined, standing, and occasionally some variation of sitting -- along with getting up and stretching. If I'm absolutely stuck with one position and couldn't stay in a squat, semi-reclined w/ the keyboard on my lap would be the one I choose. It takes the pressure off of your back and neck and doesn't cause any arm problems if the chair is wide enough or has no arms. The main downside is the relaxed position means you have to get up and move around more unless you want to turn to jelly. (I've become extremely physically active this past year, but a long session of coding can still bog me down.)

Vary (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40958727)

Vary your position.
Don't use only your mouse. Don't use only your keyboard. Switch. Don't sit for long lengths of time. Have breaks (stare off into the distance will doing some exercises, for example jumping jacks). Switch between standing and sitting.

Use a beanbag, sure, but only for an hour or two a day.

Sword of Iron.

swiss ball (3, Interesting)

cnastase (1504381) | more than 2 years ago | (#40958759)

Sit on a ball and get up every hour and walk for 5-10 minutes. We tend to lean somewhat when sitting in a chair, with the ball that's not very handy since you'll lose balance. Also you can bounce and annoy everyone else in the room. I have some back problems and a swiss ball has been strongly recommended for my recovery after a herniated disc surgery. I use it at work. Takes a while getting used to it at first, since the back muscles are lazy due to sitting in chairs, but eventually you'll get there if you really want to. And don't forget to get up and walk every once in a while.

Re:swiss ball (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40958983)

I sit on the ball full time at my desk. I don't have a chair. It is awesome. You have to work your "core muscles" to stay in position, full time, and you can't slouch or lean back. Just Do It.

Well don't do what I do sometimes (1)

GoodNewsJimDotCom (2244874) | more than 2 years ago | (#40958761)

Sometimes I sit with one leg folded under my thigh. I got this really nasty kink in my left knee right now. I know it will work itself out in about a day, but I have a temporary limp for the day. Also it cuts off circulation when you fold your foot under your thigh. It is just a bad habit to do.

No single position is good, setup Workrave to help (1)

foma84 (2079302) | more than 2 years ago | (#40958785)

workrave [workrave.org] has been my companion for years now.
It's great, when I use it, but there are times (often) when i'm too absorbed in whatever I am doing to let it distract me.

But the times i'm paying attention, it's a noticable productivity boost and my bones feel better.

My setup:
20 second pause every 20 mins
7,5 min pause every hour
8h max per day (go figure)

Re:No single position is good, setup Workrave to h (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40958877)

Oh, man... What a horrible setup.

Suggested change:

- Max 4.5 hours per day.
- 30 min pause every hour and a half.
- 1 week vacation every 6 weeks.

You'll get more done than by working 8h with little to no vacation (burns up anyone in the long run), and you'll have plenty of time for your wife/gf and kids.

How long are your hours? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40958791)

Mine are 3600 seconds long, and 3601 when there's a leap second.

Re:How long are your hours? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40959051)

3600 2nds? What about first, third, fourth, fifth... 3600th?

Book on topic The Computer User's Survival Guide (1)

zapyon (575974) | more than 2 years ago | (#40958881)

Joan Stigliani: The Computer User's Survival Guide: Staying Healthy in a High Tech World

See it at the Female Warrior's Shop [amazon.com]

It is 10+ years old but when I read it I thought it was pretty good. If there are newer books that are recommendable I would be interested, too.

Otherwise: keep moving. As others in this discussion have stated: we are not made to sit still for long periods (or stand still, come tho that). Just try to sit in a comfortable position for, let's say, 1 hour, without moving at all (breathing movements and heartbeat may be continued ;-)

good chair (1)

Tom (822) | more than 2 years ago | (#40958883)

One of the most common causes for problems is a cheap chair.

An ex-girlfriend of mine had chronic back pains, so we went out and bought her are really good (and really expensive) office chair. I'm not talking leather, I'm talking "they deliver it and an expert adjusts it to you and your desk for optimum comfort".

It helped a lot. Why wait until your back hurts when you can prevent it?

Chair that vibrates (1)

david999 (941503) | more than 2 years ago | (#40958885)

Get a chair that vibrates. It will cost you a quarter an hour but think of the all the money you will save for retirement. Make sure your chair have arm rests that are adjustable and has a seat cushion that breathes and does not get hot. Adjust the height of the chair so your feet flatly touch the floor. Also make sure that underneath your knees they do not contact the chair edge (cutting off circulation). The table height should be low enough so your arm is flat on the table. If your arm / shoulder is raised up all the time you will feel it with your shoulder aching all the time. Stop gripping that mouse. Find one the right size. I remember my Packard Bell mouse from the mid 90's that was shaped like a mouse. It caused problems with my hand as it was too high in the middle and wide on the sides and narrow where the buttons were. Google search: http://www.flickr.com/photos/eyekungfu/2982910813/ [flickr.com]

CEO/Upper management (5, Funny)

tanveer1979 (530624) | more than 2 years ago | (#40958901)

All positions before upper management or CEO are not best for working long hours.
Only when you touch top in your company, its best for working long hours because you make lot of money. Lower than that you always get same salary, so no point.
When you become somebody in top position, its the position to be.
However, in this particular position, if your position is not the topmost position(i.e. you are the owner), you need to work very long hours in 90 angle position.

This is how to attain this position
1. Stand straight, arrow straight
2. Bend forward 90 degrees, so your lips are facing ground
3. Now lift neck 90 degrees so your lips can be in perfect position for ass kiss

This position is best if you are in very good long hour upper management position

The best position is a new one (1)

osvenskan (1446645) | more than 2 years ago | (#40958937)

I've been a keyboard jockey for many years. It's been my experience that holding any single position for hours at a stretch hurts something -- back, shoulders, wrist, spine, or all of the above. The "best position" is usually "something other than the one I've been in for the past 60 minutes".

To address this, I recently got a sit-stand workstation [ergotron.com] . I love being able to stand up occasionally while I work. Standing relieves the pressure from my sit bones and legs, and since standing takes more energy I feel more awake and alive. I find I stand for an hour or two of every eight hour day. I don't like to sit all day, and I can't imagine standing all day.

The particular product I linked to above has its drawbacks. I love the ease of the transition between sitting and standing. I hate the mouse tray. It's too small for a regular mouse so I switched to a trackball. But regardless of which I use, my arm receives no support while using it. Holding my arm in the air so much stresses my shoulder. The only time I'm completely comfortable using a mouse is when all of my arm from the elbow forward is resting on a flat surface. The mouse tray on this product demands the exact opposite. My shoulder hurts enough that I know I can't continue using this, but I plan to work out something so that I can easily swap between sitting and standing. They offer similar products that might work better for me.

I'm also lucky enough to work from home, so I have six positions in which I regularly work: 1) sitting at the desk, 2) standing at the desk, 3) sitting at the kitchen table, 4) sitting in the living room, 5) sitting on the table on the porch, and 6) here in the hammock. (I have a Mayan style hammock hung on my screened-in porch.) I spend most of my time at 1, 2, and 6. When I'm away from the desk, I have to use the laptop keyboard which isn't great for my wrists. But the tradeoff is worth it. The hammock supports my back beautifully.

In short, I find that the best position for me to be in is a new one. We weren't made to work at a keyboard for 6-12 hours/day, and the best way to make your body forgive you while you do this is to spread the abuse around to different body parts. And after work, make it up to your body -- do yoga, go for a swim, run, or ride a bike.

Get a Monitor Stand (4, Interesting)

VernonNemitz (581327) | more than 2 years ago | (#40958943)

If you can raise your monitor so that you directly face it without leaning or bending your neck downward, this will help you retain a vertical posture, which in turn leads to being comfortable longer. I've built myself a number of monitor stands over the years; all it takes is 3 pieces of wood (some even looked professional, because I bought quality wood). The one I'm at now lifts the monitor about 10 inches off the desk. Your preference may be different, of course.

Re:Get a Monitor Stand (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40959285)

I've heard that the head and eyes are supposed to be slightly bent down. Therefore, you should put it so that the center of the viewable area is a foot lower then straight ahead eye level and three feet away (or something like that).

Re:Get a Monitor Stand (0)

blue_teeth (83171) | more than 2 years ago | (#40959313)

Agreed!  But laptops have a problem.  Lifting a laptop, the keyboard goes with it.  I use 3 or 4 thick books for my thinkpad and a thinkpad USB keyboard.

http://www.amazon.com/ThinkPad-USB-Keyboard-with-TrackPoint/dp/B002ONCC6G

Best For Office Work (1)

kgholloway (1013997) | more than 2 years ago | (#40958947)

For normal office workers doing data entry, programming, etc. on a desktp I start by recommending a low computer table. The top should be about 1" lower than the palms of the hands when they are held out with the forearms parallel to the ground and the upper arms are aligned with the trunk of the body. This will hold the desktop and paperwork being worked on.

The monitor should be wall mounted behind the computer desk. The center of the screen should be 2" to 3" above the line of sight when sitting normally and the screen should be tilted down about 5 degrees.

For a chair I recommend a Swedish kneeling office chair. These have no back but do have a padded bar extending in front of the seat that you put your knees on so that you are half kneeling and half sitting. Once you get used to this arrangement it is extremely comfortable and prevents loss of circulation and/or cramps from long sessions.

But the best recommendation is to get up every 1/2 to 1 hour and take a 2 or 3 minute walk. You'd be surprised how much this can help.

===KGH

Personally (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 2 years ago | (#40958957)

Personally I work best in my hammock, notebook on my lap, head propped up on a pillow, with occasional breaks to run or paddle. Many people look horrified when I tell them about working in a hammock though (isn't it bad for your back!?) and then hit me when I tell them about the rest. ;)

Re:Personally (1)

David_Hart (1184661) | more than 2 years ago | (#40959029)

I agree... I love hammocks...

However, the biggest problems with a hammock/beach/dock is that laptop displays still suck in the sun. E-Ink is the closest thing, so far, to a solution. But it's taking them forever to come up with a decent color screen with a good refresh rate and low cost.

Re:Personally (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 2 years ago | (#40959331)

Find some shade. You shouldn't be working long hours in the direct sunlight anyway.

RECUMBENT SEATING. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40958975)

"Something like this (http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-9713566-1.html) or (http://zero-drop.com/?p=1511). I am not a physician or an ergonomic expert but from what I understand about human physiology and mechanics is that majority of the back problems stem from overexerted or misaligned vertebrae. With a recumbent position you would relive the most amount of pressure from you spine and at the same time have a better alignment of the spine."

Fuck up (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40958987)

The only other viable alternative is untenable over the long haul.

Re:Fuck up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40959041)

On the contrary. I've found that knee pads provide sufficient comfort for any duration.

Whatever you do, keep moving. (4, Interesting)

VortexCortex (1117377) | more than 2 years ago | (#40958993)

If you don't move for long periods of time you could cause deep vein thrombosis, and die from blood clots.

Re:Whatever you do, keep moving. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40959203)

So large number of people that fly to the opposite side of Earth (e.g. North Ameria to Asia) who have to be in crammed seats for 20+ hours died on the plane?

Re:Whatever you do, keep moving. (1)

oakgrove (845019) | more than 2 years ago | (#40959359)

Yep. Happens all the time.

Bouyancy (1)

TwineLogic (1679802) | more than 2 years ago | (#40958997)

I've been kind of curious about this idea lately: What if we sat in hot tubs at our desks?

I predict the buoyancy would reduce the weight supported by our buttocks, so that we would be more comfortable.

I suspect the pressure of even 24 inches of water would assist in pushing venous blood out of our legs. This would improve our circulation and reduce the chance of blood clots forming.

In conclusion, desk workers would gain the benefit of at-work hot-tubbing. What could be more awesome?

In order to avoid "pruning up" the skin, the "water" could be an isotonic solution of dissolved salts.

Thoughts? I have been considering this because I developed a closed venous ulcer on my shin before I turned 40...

Just sit back and enjoy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40958999)

Lower down your seat and lean it back as far as possible - 45% for the back support is optimal, because there is no tension on the spine. At it feels like vacation when you're sitting like this, so you can be at work and not really feeling it :) I've been sitting like this only for the past 5 years, so I know what I'm talking about.

The physiotherapist I work with says (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40959055)

"We would rather you switch between a few bad positions every hour or so rather than be in a single bad position all day. Just move, okay?"

Long hours coding are best avoided. (5, Interesting)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 2 years ago | (#40959069)

Most comments here talk about taking breaks to do minor calisthenics to keep the circulation and other minor ailments away. Or about eye strain etc. But one of the most important thing doing the heavy lifting during coding is the brain. And one has to rest and sharpen the brain too. Long hours are brutal on the brain. Brain during waking hours keeps lots and lots of stuff in local temporary memory. These experiences and lessons must be transcribed to long term storage. That happens during the sleep. Continuing long hours without sleep will dull your brain and the code will be buggy. I have my pet theory almost all the bugs are coded in between 1 PM and 3 PM, when the body is digesting lunch and brain wants to go to sleep. So try to work at least a power nap in it. Slogging for long hours without break would lead to very low productivity near the end.

This is especially true while debugging. Only when you stop looking at code start thinking about something else things work out. Countless number of times, I log out at 5PM to catch the 5:15 trolley, while walking back thinking about "pick dry cleaning, running low on coffee but can last another day, today is karate class day for the kid.." it would suddenly strike me, "wait a minute, in this function I am deleting invalid bodies, but the caller's caller of this function is looping through the body list, that is why the grandparent's loop is crashing in the next increment of the loop index". Such things have happened so many times. I think coding is done in many small bursts of activity with lots of thinking in between. Long coding sessions are not likely to be very productive.

What Is the Best Position To Work For Long Hours? (1)

djlowe (41723) | more than 2 years ago | (#40959121)

What Is the Best Position To Work For Long Hours?

Isn't it obvious? From home, while lounging, with a Cisco 891 router somewhere at home which provides VPN tunnels to the corporate office for voice and data, And of course, with hospital-style trays at various levels and angles suspended over you, to hold your laptop, monitors, keyboard, mouse.

With of course, various liquid-dispensing tubes (water, caffeine, alcohol), suspended from hospital-style "trees", which you use as needed/justified *grin*.

I'm not sure why this is even a question - doesn't everyone work this way? *grin*

However, for those of you that have to work for long hours at your office? Get 2 desks, one a normal one, the other one that can be adjusted for height. Get 2 sets of monitors and keyboards and mice. One set you use when you're seated at your desk, the other that you can use while standing at the other desk. Alternate between them, as needed. And of course, you just undock your laptop when you go home.

Regards,

dj

P.S.

Oh, and for those of you whose employers won't agree to pay for such a setup, despite working long hours for them? Start looking for another job. We've a LOT of people with this setup in their cubicles where I work, and the money spent to set it up is FAR less than the money that they earn.

Regards,

dj

Related Peripherals - touchpad and verticle mouse (1)

transporter_ii (986545) | more than 2 years ago | (#40959123)

For a desktop, I recently started using a combination of an ergomoue and a touchpad, in almost an ambidextrous manner. I've always been right handed, but I have started to use the touchpad with my left hand and only fall back to the ergomouse when I need to copy and paste things or need better control than the touchpad will give me. My right arm and shoulder had really been bothering me and this has helped in just a few weeks of use.

The vertical mouse is a much more natural position than a normal mouse for your arm and wrist. The touchpad rocks on verticle scrolling, working actually better than a scroll-wheel on a mouse.

What you want is something like an Evoluent VM4 Vertical Mouse (there are several brands) and an Easycat two button Touchpad. Easycat works fine with Linux right out of the box.

Yeah, I've spent too much time behind a computer. Don't judge me.

My decade-tried sitting solution and plan (4, Informative)

Roger Wilcox (776904) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

On top of ... (1)

laejoh (648921) | more than 2 years ago | (#40959143)

On top of aï big pile of money with many beautiful ladies!

in a bed full of $100 bills (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 2 years ago | (#40959171)

You mean at the office?

An a new bed every night, stuffed with $100 bills, provided by my employer, for me to keep.

Who's the fuck erasing posts with the word fuck? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40959181)

Fuck censorship!

Pics or it didn't happen (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 2 years ago | (#40959247)

It was my understanding that Slashdot never erased a comment unless there was a court order or, back in the pre-corporate-days, a threat of legal action. I guess they could lose a post if the deletion was a result of a technical glitch. such as an explosion at the server 10 seconds after you post a comment, before it has a chance to get backed up offsite.

As far as I know, only one comment has ever been deleted from Slashdot, and that was a as a result a threat of legal action by the "Church" of Scientology back in the days when /. was independent and couldn't afford to mount a legal defense.

Someone correct me if I'm wrong here.

By the way, try browsing at "-1".

Re:Pics or it didn't happen (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40959407)

I browsed to -1 of course. Did many cross checks. My fault for not taking a pic, although I don't see how that would prove anything. I doubt /. on the whole would ever stoop so low as to snuff the goatse as you said, although training fucked in the brain righteous noobs is always as issue.

Not to be paranoid, but I'm trying to make this post for 20 minutes now & can't get through the captcha. Would be quite easy to snarf IP's to thwart spammers in this way & stretch that in use of difficult cases such as yours truly. Innocent til proven guilty, but there's plenty of creative room to test those assumptions & flush out the http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0436078/ aristocrats. I'll be back with a vengeance if any of this pans out with editorial sneakiness! :)

Re:Who's the fuck erasing posts with the word fuck (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40959301)

-1, that's better. Thanks. Hate to see /. wiping their ass my constitution.
Still, I fail to see the -1 in that comment, using the word fuck is not all that foul, in a post neo beaver cleaver world.

Laydown Desk And Pee A Lot (1)

jareth780 (176411) | more than 2 years ago | (#40959191)

I'm not kidding. When I work at home, I use a laydown desk (basically a cot/lawn chair with some strategically placed pillows), and my monitor is placed on the edge of a small table, and I drink a lot of liquids (mostly water), so I'm constantly forced to get up and reposition. It's not the most efficient way to work, but it seems to have the least impact on my body. My keyboard is in my lap, and I use a bamboo tablet on a stack of books. I wouldn't be able to do this at an office, but if I was asked to work extra hours I would be working those hours at home anyway.

All that being said, hacks like this aren't really solutions. We all need to exercise and minimize our computer use, there's just no real way around that. I think this is all just damage control.

in a bed full of $100 bills (typofixed) (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 2 years ago | (#40959193)

You mean at the office?

In a new bed every night, stuffed with $100 bills, provided by my employer, for me to keep.

Don't use a regular mouse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40959215)

Two suggestions:

1) After lots of shoulder problems years ago, I gave up on regular mouse and went to a Logitech Trackball. Now my wrist rests on the desktop and it takes a lot of stress off my shoulder.

2) Get a REALLY good chair. I have an Aeron chair and it helped (but no chair eliminates) with lower back problems.

Good luck.

No. (1)

Havenwar (867124) | more than 2 years ago | (#40959237)

Well in my experience, like so many other's here, changing position is the best. I don't have any fancy research to support that with, just the average "geek since age 6, spend pretty much every woken hour by a computer for the past 25 years" background that most people here have. At times I've had back problems or such, and then I've had to get serious about it, changing my position more regularly. When I was tied to a desktop it was the worst, but I found occasionally switching between one of those seat-balls and a regular chair did wonders... Once I got into laptops, well... Now I spend some time at my desk. Then I have another shelf where I can stand up and work for a while if I feel like it... or I can lounge on my bed, on the floor, on a hammock, standing, leaning, sitting. I change position regularly, put a leg under me, throw my feet up, sit on my knees... Maybe ever 15-20 minutes I move. Every half hour to hour I get up and walk a bit, not to walk but to go get some water or hit the bathroom or something. All together this has massively increased my comfort and decreased any problems I used to have.

Okay not ANY problems, I still can't quite figure out how bake cookies without having an oven, but my back is doing fine.

Ergonomics (1)

a_quester (721036) | more than 2 years ago | (#40959263)

My best solution was to buy a "swing-arm" for my monitor. I can adjust the monitor for optimal viewing in whatever position I choose to sit. I usually sit on my futon with the swing-arm clasped to a heavy cart with wheels. The CPU is on the bottom shelf. The swing-arm is made from aluminium tubing; it screws onto the rear of the monitor. An added benefit is that I can turn my monitor 90 degrees and look at pictures vertically. Having used it, I would not want to be without it.

Get a Plank of wood (1)

ryzvonusef (1151717) | more than 2 years ago | (#40959281)

That's what I did.

I got a spare plank of wood left over from some cabinet work in the kitchen, square-ish in size and a bit bigger than my back, and plopped it right between me and my cushion. I can adjust it to a vaguely upright position(good for typing), or reclining according to my mood(browsing, watching videos etc), and I am sure my back is mostly straight rather than curving in to the cushion and going all humped.

Oh, and I got a smaller cushion for my neck/head. Make sure their is no neck strain, or it's all pointless.

Alternatively, read this BBC article, they recommend a 120-135 degree angle for a chair:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/6187080.stm [bbc.co.uk]

there isn't one (1)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 2 years ago | (#40959367)

Even given the most ergonomic chair, it's unhealthy to sit for long periods of time. Try this: Have your main workstation at a desk with a good chair, and have a separate laptop (to which you can remote into your desktop if necessary) at a height sufficient to stand while you work. Alternate periodically.

A co-worker has his desk set unusually high, and typically stands at his desk to work. When he gets tired he sits on a bar stool.

Laying down with keyboard on lap (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40959395)

SERIOUSLY. I had very serious back problems for years from poor posture, sitting upright, working at a computer. I tried everything and was constantly dealing with pinched nerves and uber-carpal tunnel. Now, I lay down on a sofa with my back propped up, keyboard on my lap, screen on a table a little to the right of me. No more back problems. Carpal tunnel stuff (really, nerves pinched) minimized. And get a somewhat ergonomic keyboard, of course. I use a Logitech wireless K350.

Also, if you have to sit up and have serious carpal tunnel problems, there are keyboards that flip the keyboard so that it's vertical, split in half. And get a sideways ergnomic mouse. This works pretty well if you can get used to it.

Honestly (1)

Murdoch5 (1563847) | more than 2 years ago | (#40959399)

It just comes down to what feels good for you. At least for me the "ergonomic" rule book needs to go out the window, I end up with more strain, more discomfort and less productivity if I do everything the so called "ergonomic" way. If I have to code for hours, I have my chair tilted back, I have my hand on the edge of the desk, I have my feet moving under the desk and I switch positions every few minutes. From the "ergonomic" point of view I have about the worlds worst setup but from the how I feel and how much work I get done view I have the best. Just keep trying what works for you and you'll hit a point where you'll find your own "ergonomic" setup. I put the word in quotes because I don't believe there is a one fit for everyone, it's almost black magic.

Several positions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40959421)

CEO, vice-ceo, politician, and many other positions in power.

Swopper and/or standing or reclined (1)

Qbertino (265505) | more than 2 years ago | (#40959427)

Get a Swopper [swopper.com] . Expensive, but worth the money. Have heard only good things about it. Forces you to sit 'actively'. Switch the Swopper with standing every once in a while. I'm using a barstool as a poor mans Swopper and it ain't doing my back any good. I'll be getting a Swopper as soon as I can afford one.

The third option would be a recliner. However, setting up your workplace to be able to type and UI navigate comfortably in a reclined position probably is such a hassle that it is impractical.

there's no 100% sure way to avoid RSI (1)

kunyo (863739) | more than 2 years ago | (#40959455)

There's no 100% way to make sure you're not getting RSI so you have to make sure to change position every once in a while If you want to limit chances you are going to get RSI or something like that just take care to follow these simple rules: 1. Don't stay more than 2 hours in a row in front of your workstation. If you don't have to piss then just stand up, make two steps and sit down again 2. Every half an hour try to follow the line of your office' roof with your eyes. This obliges you to move a bunch of muscles at the same time, eyes, neck, jaw, et cetera 3. Have a mandatory break every maximum 4 hours. Don't lunch while working at your workstation. 4. Make simple exercises with your arms every once in a while so you don't get stuck in the same position. Make your hands turn in circles palm open until you hear horrible noises from your junctions :D 5. Force your employer to make sure that: - light exposition comes from your left or right, not from above you. This reduces the need to make movements with the neck to read the monitor - your chair has arm support - you have a stand for your feet so they make a 100-120 angle compared to your legs I took part of this from the italian law for safety of computer operators and i must say that it actually works. I'm working as developer since 2004 and i still don't have any back/neck relevant pain

Management (1)

Threni (635302) | more than 2 years ago | (#40959457)

You don't have to do fuck all, it doesn't require any technical ability whatsoever, you take all the credit but get none of the blame, and the pay is great.

In a high quality chair, try a HM Embody (1)

dsio (2642177) | more than 2 years ago | (#40959471)

I spend most of my time in a Herman Miller Embody chair, a ridiculously overpriced piece of kit that happens to be insanely comfortable for long periods of time, and lets you move around so much in so many different directions during the day, they really put a lot of thought into it and as much as the purchase price hurts, nobody that has one regrets it
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