Translators tend to work long hours in front of computers, books and other devices with little to no physical activity. This can help develop muscular pain, strain on the eyes, stiffness, among other injuries. We can avoid these through correct posture, stretching, regular breaks and an active lifestyle. Today, we are going to focus on how to sit correctly at your desk while working on the computer.
Bad posture is the main reason we may have lower back pain, as well as neck stiffness. The best way to prevent aching is neutral body positioning, which prevents stress on muscles, tendons and bones.
When sitting down, check your posture:
- Your feet should be flat on the floor, no elevation or dangling.
- Your knees should create a right angle with the floor and be at the same level as your hips: do not cross your legs, it can cause your pelvis to rotate, provoking pain in the lower back and a misalignment of the spine over time.
- Sitting in a neutral position allows proper curvature of the spine. There should be support for the lower back, and your back should be fully against the chair: no slouching, no straining.
- Elbows should be bent at 90 degrees, as well, and wrists and hands should rest comfortably, not be bent excessively. Relax your shoulders and do not look down at your screen, the top of it should be at eye level.
There are other things that you should take into account about ergonomics and posture when working on the computer: the mouse, the keyboard and the monitor.
For the mouse, you should hold it loosely, don’t grip it with force (this causes straining and tension on the wrist and hand bones). Use your whole arm to move the mouse to avoid overuse of smaller bones of the hand, which can cause pain and stress on the muscles, nerves and tendons. Do not use wrist rests, as they can slow and cut off circulation through the wrist. And most importantly, take frequent rests and stretch! (look out for our stretching exercises for translations).
As for the keyboard, it should lie flat or negatively inclined (lower the further away from you) to keep your wrists in a neutral position. You should have a good posture in relation to your keyboard: relaxed shoulders, elbows bent at 90 degrees, hands aligned with the elbows, neutral position for the hands with the thumb on the space bar.
Try to set your screen or monitor so that the top of it is at eye level, or lower. That way, you do not need to move your head or neck to see the monitor (reducing neck pain). The ideal distance between your head and the monitor is at least 20 inches or 0,5 meters away, which is around an arm’s length. The angle of the monitor is important as well! Laptops can cause straining because you bend your neck to look at the screen, so you should move the monitor so that it is centered with your eyes, directly in front of you. If the lighting is harsh and causes glaring, angle the screen slightly down.
Finally, take breaks regularly to rest your eyes to avoid dryness, adjust font size to reduce straining and look off-screen often.
Do you already do all of these? Do you have any other tips? Let us know!
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