Those of you who sit at your job all day know that being sedentary in one position for hours can lead to problems. I've dealt with high hamstring tightness, piriformis syndrome, back pain and the like for years. At first, I'd put my laptop on the floor and write on my stomach. Most of Isabeau was written in this position. But after awhile, that took its toll on my shoulders and simply wasn't comfortable after more than an hour or so.
Since my husband is an engineer, he put his practical brain on and decided to create some more ergonomic writing arrangements for me.
The first thing he did was make a treadmill desk (above). I got the idea from a KBoards.com thread. Here are some specifics for it:
1) It cost nothing, since he made it out of scrap lumber and we had extra polyurethane to finish it.
2) The 'desk' rests on the handrails and is kept in place by wood fixtures (blocks) on the underside. It is easy to put on and lift off of the handrails.
2) There is a 1/2" lip at the bottom of the desk surface that keeps the laptop and mouse in place.
3) Speed will vary by personal preference. I started off writing at less than 1.5 mph and worked my way up to 2.0 mph. I find that any faster than that and my typing accuracy suffers, although a lot of people do just fine at faster speeds. I do tend to write more slowly on the treadmill, so I most often use it when editing or when I can't stand to sit still any longer.
ERGONOMIC SITTING DESK
The second change was to alter my posture while at the desk. Sitting for long periods made my hamstrings tight, and crouching forward to reach the keyboard rounded my back and shoulders, causing low back pain and shoulder pain on one side. (I'd lean my left elbow on the desk for support and hold my right arm back to work the mouse.) Here are the changes we made to my sitting desk:
1) Putting a footstool under my desk allowed me to stretch out my legs, decreasing hamstring tightness and the PIA of piriformis syndrome.
2) Memory foam pillow under my bum. I also put a small pillow behind my lower back for lumbar support when needed.
3) Moved the keyboard to a portable keyboard/laptop tray on my lap. No more reaching forward.
4) Mouse placed on stool to my right. No more twisting sideways.
5) Comfy chair with arms. Keeps me more upright and even, left to right.
The standing desk was our final project. The important thing here was getting the placement of the keyboard right. I write the most words per hour sitting. Second would be standing. Slowest output for me is on the treadmill. For some writers that works in reverse, though. So when hamstring or gluteal pain makes me not want to sit and a flare-up of plantar fasciitis (one of the drawbacks of being a runner) keeps me off the treadmill, I stand. Here's what we did for a standing desk:
1) Added a shelf above the desk for a second monitor. At first I considered just moving the all-in-one computer up when I needed to stand, but that sucker is heavy. I didn't want to drop it. Monitors these days are affordable. There's some doo-hickey that connects the two monitors. All I have to do is turn on the top monitor, slide the file to the right, and it pops up above.
2) Added the second monitor and hardware to connect them.
3) Added a sliding keyboard tray beneath the shelf. The height of the shelf was determined by the height of the original monitor below and the space needed for the keyboard tray.
4) Use the footstool in the horizontal position to stand on, since the shelf is up a bit high. And no, I haven't fallen off. Yet.
The stool I use is a KidKraft Nursing Stool. It can be purchased in several finishes, from Espresso, to Honey Oak, to Natural.
The bamboo desk is by Legare. They have several finishes and configurations. I have the smaller wheat finish desk in the secluded writing area and a larger espresso finish corner desk and extensions in the business office. You can order it via their web site or from Amazon. I was able to put all of their furniture together myself. No tools required!
I'm much more comfortable these days, since I have options. Feel free to share your ergonomic writing tips in the comments!