Ergonomics + shoulder pain
I've seen a couple ergonomics postings here on carpal tunnel but was wondering if anyone else has experienced back/shoulder pain from editing and if they've found any tricks to address it. In my case, I get it pretty bad on my left side, though I'm right handed. So I keep my left hand, for the most part, on the left side of my keyboard and either mouse or pen (Wacom tablet) with my right. The pain is between the scapula and spine and I get it whether on Avid or FCP and regardless of the type of chair or desk config.
I know this isn't a medical forum, but figured we all do the same repetitive motions so should have some common ground.
[Jason Djang] "I get it whether on Avid or FCP "
Maybe you should try Premiere Pro.
Sorry for making a joke out of your pain. :-)
I find that regular stretching of my upper body whilst remaining seated and an hourly walk down the corridors helps quite a bit with situations like these.
Have you tried getting a massage on a regular basis as well? (you'd be amazed what a difference it can make even if provided once/twice per month). Lastly, consider Yoga/low impact stretching exercises.
just 2 cents from someone who's sat in the editor chair for 30 years and has had a history of back pains - but no more.
FCP Certified Trainer
I totally agree that the pain can be lessened or removed by physical activity. Our work is so inherently unhealthy, sitting in a dark room, in front of EMF emitting monitors, stressed to the gills, and exhausted. Like the above post said, try to get up and move every hour, get massage, strengthen the rhomboids and other muscles around the scapulas, stretch your glutes, psoas and abdominal, and be very attentive to your posture. I see so many editors with horrible, slouching posture that gets ingrained in their soft tissue which over the course of time leads to chronic pain. Get on it now so that it doesn't become debilitating!!!
Take a look at this article. http://tinyurl.com/nr2h4a
I can relate, I've just taken a couple of Ibuprofens because my left shoulder was aching despite it just sitting on the desk. Mine is slightly different, up in the trapezoid but I think it relates to an old shoulder injury (which by the way was caused by repetitive lifting of an SP Betacam!).
If my chair is too high and I have to hold my arms up rather than resting them on the desk I also get a sharp pan right in the pointiest bone at the back of my neck. That's a nasty one.
Complaint number three is "mouse cramp" in the right hand. I guess I should try a pen and tablet - can anyone tell me if it's any better? I worry it might be worse.
My Doctor says Ibuprofen can make you bleed to death so don't follow my example!
My physio tells me to stretch and walk regularly, much better advice. That's what long renders are for!
S Bedford, Western Australia
wacom tablet and pen is a must have. Since getting mine i have never had a pain in the wrist again..which is good because thats the reason i got it over three years ago.
Video Editor/Audio Mixer/ Compositor/Motion GFX/Barista
Character Options Ltd
A follow up on the shoulder pain I mentioned. . .
I had an ergonomic assesment done, and as well as the expected postural & chair adjustment problems, the guy worked out where the aching left shoulder came from.
When I use my right hand for mouse work, I habitually lean on my left elbow, hand on chin. I do it ALL the time and had never noticed. I've been pushing my arm bone hard up into my shoulder socket for long periods. No wonder it aches.
Don't know how I am going to break this habit. Maybe a sharp drawing-pin under the elbow will do it!
Wishing everyone an ache free ergonomically correct Christmas!
S Bedford, Western Australia
One of the best things I do is stand for sometimes up to half the day. And I move around from time to time, good to take a break every hour at least to just move around.
They're somewhat expensive, but we run the Anthro Fit Consoles here that allow all of us to put the keyboard / tablet in a comfortable position and more importantly, the monitors in comfortable positions. That's the big source of your back pain probably, how your head it sitting in relation to looking at the monitors.
Here's a shot of my edit suite with the Fit Console. That huge keyboard shelf lifts up so I can stand and all the monitors are on swing arms so I can lift them up and move them around as needed to be comfortable.
Last, but not least, our dog comes to work with me everyday and at least once a day I go outside and throw the frisbee or the ball with her. That is always a very relaxing distraction.
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Thanks for everyone's thoughts. I'd love a stand-up desk, but those of us who freelance don't have much say in our set-ups. I'll have to try the drugs next.
I freelance as well, and the situations range from pretty good to criminal as far as ergonomics are concerned. I have, however, reached the right level of comfort with my clients and/or the right amount of being old and fed up that I generally bitch about ergonomics and suggest what might make it better for me, and most people are receptive.
Try to get the desk as low as possible, almost on your lap when your feet are flat on the floor with hip joints level with or even slightly below the knees. Monitors low enough that the eye line is level with or even looking slightly down at the top edge of the monitors.
Regarding the mouse cramps, the Apple corporation has not made an ergonomically correct mouse in its entire history, and the newest one is the worst one EVER (ok, besides the round one with the original iMac). I use a Microsoft Natural Mouse 6000, and love it. I wasn't sure about it for the first 3-4 hours that I had it, and after that, I knew I'd never go back. I carry it around to all of the places where I freelance now.
I'd almost rather sit at a 10 year old avid running on NT with great ergonomics than a brand new Final Cut system that breaks my back after an hour. It's the absolute number one concern for me.
I suffered from various bad-ergonomics-related issues for years: 25 years in various IS roles. I seem to spend the majority of my life staring at some type of computer screen.
My salvation came when I went to work for a hospital who had a professional staff ergonomist. The first thing she did was order me a new desk and chair and completely rearrange my office. Then she taught me how to correctly adjust my chair to provide good back and forearm support. My monitors were height-adjustable, but the desk surface was still too low so she added a monitor shelf. Now my monitors are directly level in front of me when my head and neck are in an upright, neutral position.
After all that, she enrolled me in therapeutic stretching classes at our Health & Fitness Center. The beginner classes started in a heated pool, then moved to stretching on mats, then on to weight training and swimming.
It's now 5 years later. I'm 43 years old and I feel better now (and I'm in better shape) than I was when I was 23. As she says, "It's 50% 'stop sitting wrong' and 50% 'stop sitting' (i.e. get your butt out of the chair and get some exercise)"
I had a very similar pain, which got worse over the course of a few weeks to the extent that it crept from the shoulder, down the arm and was affecting my hand.
An idiot doctor decided i had a viral infection and actually prescribed antibiotics!
I went to a physiotherapist who took less than 15mins to accurate diagnose that I had a displaced disc in my neck. Basically described it as the disc was bulging out to one side, which trapped nerves, etc.
She showed me some simple exercises which actually pushed the bulge back into place, and relieved the pain.
The cause was not so much editing (my screens are positioned so i dont have to look downwards) but from using a laptop on an evening. Constant looking down seems to cause the disc to try slip out on the side with less pressure...naughty disc!
Go see a physiotherapist - they are definitely specialists worth knowing!
Video Editor/Audio Mixer/ Compositor/Motion GFX/Barista
Character Options Ltd
This is all good information. I too get neck tightness, and I know it is from sitting at this computer for so long and slouching in my chair. Computer screens should be adaptable so that we are not always looking up slightly. They should sort of be like pads laying on a table, that can angle up to face downward looking eyes. Working on a computer should be like cooking. You don't hear about cooks getting shoulder and neck pain. (Of course, you do though for various other reasons). being able to adjust arm height is also important. An angled foot rest under the desk takes a lot of load off the spine. But one important consideration seems to be the ability to get the monitor below the eyes so the worker can look downward.
Have any of you experimented with using two chairs, and what do you think of those "back" chairs where you sat on your knees? These were popular a few decades ago, but I don't see them around these days.
I get a nice ergo chair at work - though it's a little big/tall and I'm a little bit small/not so tall. So I've improvised with a small footstool though most of the time, I sit with my legs stretched out, perched on an improvised footrest.
Agree with the rest on the need to stretch once you feel a little stiff - even with a simple reaching up above your head with both arms as you remain in your seat. Really helps to realign things.
The other thing I do is go to the gym once a week on weekends [not much energy left on a workday]. As much as I would like to have a 'beach bod', it's more important for me to have strong core/back - so that's what I focus on. Back > Biceps when you're sitting down 8-12 hours a day.
In fact, I should get going to the gym now ;)
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It is very comforting to know that I am not the only one suffering from this. I first experienced this a few years back after editing a feature many months. It is almost exactly the same type of pain in the same part of the shoulder. It got so bad that I went to a chiropractor for a couple of months and it got the pain to a manageable level. It has recently returned and I am mostly just treating it with Ibuprofen (800mg) but have noticed just how poor my posture is.
I am now entering a new full time gig as Senior Editor and I am going into this job with ergonomics in mind. I am considering a stand up work station and the height of the monitors.
I wish the best in taking care of yourself while doing the editing grind.