Keep Your Chin Up
Like Fellowes, Kensington offers a huge range of ergonomic devices, including trays, wrist pads, seat rests, and the company’s SmartFit System. SmartFit essentially uses your hand size to ballpark your overall body proportions. Find the color code that matches your hand size, then use it to build whatever ergonomic accessory you’ve purchased. For instance, look at the Spin 2. Using the SmartFit System, you can ballpark the necessary height needed for the monitor elevation. The Spin 2 is a sturdy unit, and its Lazy Susan-like design assembles in seconds, which I suppose is the whole point when addressing a mainstream office audience. It almost seems too mundane to be an ergonomic accessory, but perhaps the most sublime things are also the simplest.
The Kensington Column Mount Extended Monitor Arm ($170) is more up my alley. The arm uses a C-clamp to grip your desk, then you use the color-coded system to select the arm’s position on the column. For those who never got the memo about putting the top of the screen at eye height, it’s a handy (so to speak) concept. The arm itself is quite solid, but you need a solid desk to hold it steady. Otherwise you get vibrations from things such as the washing machine or passing traffic causing the monitor to bounce up and down, and that can’t be ergonomically good.
It’s funny. I’ve been writing this article with very few hours off for nearly three days, and for the first time in years, I feel an obvious discomfort in my wrists. After weeks of using the Logitech K350, it took this level of nearly non-stop work to revive my old carpal tunnel problems. Perhaps there’s an element of suggestibility involved here, a bit of the writer’s Jedi mind trick. (“These aren’t the droids you’re looking for. You will get an RSI if you keep working like this.”) But simply writing this article has reaffirmed for me how necessary these products are and how important it is to make sure you have exactly the right products for your specific needs.
“There isn’t a single problem when it comes to ergonomics. Everybody is a little different,” Kinesis’ Hargreaves said. “And once you get an injury, you’re more susceptible to it in the future. I got carpal tunnel syndrome in 1990 while demolishing a deck, and I’ve been sensitive to computer strain for that same thing ever since. So you can’t really come up with a common solution for a common problem.”
Go to the stores. Read the reviews. Try things out. Ergonomics is serious business, and it’s not like most other PC-related purchases. This isn’t about gaining a competitive edge or being able to load the next operating system. This is about your health, your freedom from pain, and your physical ability to keep doing the things you want.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need an ice pack.