I’m sure by now you all have heard about how sitting can kill you, literally. Not in one blunt trauma, but through an accumulation of sedentary residue that leads to heart attacks and other “ first world diseases.”
There is plenty of fun equipment out there to make sitting at your desk less painful, and much more expensive. Several years ago, when I was in the throes of my injury and still working full-time in an office, I “ tested” the Humanscale Freedom, a sleek contraption of springs and padding that lets you lean far back comfortably with had support. Supposedly, at the optimal angles for your hips neck and eyes. I spent a memorable hour leaning back and chilling out in the company’s office overlooking Madison Square Park. It was quite comfortable but I balked at spending almost 2 times my monthly rent on a chair.
My wife sits on an exercise ball at our house which she likes because she can bounce on it with our baby as she works. I sit on a buckwheat pillow atop my chair, which raises my rear a bit so that my hips are higher than my knees. I alternate this and standing, just raising my monitor up onto a higher shelf above me.
I always get lots of questions about ergonomics since many of my students are dealing with pain and tension from work. So here’s my favorite site about how to create a healthy ergonomic situation. The Cornell Ergonomics Center is rigorous and yet easy-to-understand.
A great article came out in The New Yorker couple weeks ago about treadmill desks (which I am obsessed with). I often get up and walk in small circles as I dictate to my computer. With the treadmill desk, I love the idea steady locomotion is one works. It seems akin to walking and talking as if with a friend. Though it’s my guess that we will just end up being able to walk around and work more through gadgets like Google Glass, rather than make a specific part of our fixed workstation movable.
Still, there’s a lot of inner territory to cover before the promise of sexy salvation by Humanscale or the treadmill desk. How we approach working at the computer is the most important ingredient of all. There is simply no technological replacement for being conscious and bringing our intelligence to how we work.