Why You Need an Ergonomic Workspace (and What Does It Mean)
Article published on Audio Issues Blog - Jan. 21th, 2021
This year, I’ve been lucky to have plenty of gigs and work to do. I spent a lot of hours in the studio mixing and mastering, and I felt so happy about it… but unfortunately, my body didn’t.
I ended up developing a tennis elbow, and my back was stiff as a stick. I couldn’t even sit at my desk or look at my mouse without feeling the tension going through my neck and my back.
It was bad! I had to do something.
I went to see my physiotherapist and asked him for tips so that I could get back to work.
He gave me some precious advice, and I thought I’ll share this with you so that you can avoid falling into the same trap I did.
ERGONOMY FOR YOUR BACK
First things first… your seat!
Think about it.
Almost every moment you spend in the studio, you are using it.
It is probably one of the things you use the most!
Investing in the right chair is what we should do first, but what most of us end up doing last. You can have the best gear and the nicest studio to work in, but if your chair doesn’t support you, you will pay the price.
What should you look for in a chair?
The best way to find your perfect match is to analyze your posture and workflow and find out what things you need to correct. You’ll also need to take into account what your personal needs are.
Personally, I always end up leaning forward, so I really needed something to help me keep my back straight. I also need to reach forward pretty often to use my gear.
The best option for me was truly an ergonomic kneeling chair!
It gives me a great posture, helps me fortify my back, and allows me to reach easily in front of me so that I can use my external gears as easily.
For those who need more support and want to go with a regular chair with a back, there are two things you should look for:
Make sure that the back of the chair is embracing your spine correctly so that it gives you support.
Verify that the armrests are well positioned: your elbows need to be as close as possible to your body and low enough so that your shoulders don’t get tired during the long studio sessions.
Having your elbows low enough on the armrest of your chair is one part of the solution, but you also need to make sure your desk, console, controller, or whatever you work on, is also positioned low enough so that everything is truly ergonomic in your work station.
ERGONOMY FOR YOUR ARMS
If you are working with a regular mouse and are doing a lot of edition work, or anything that demands a lot of wrist movements, you probably will need to change it sooner or later!
Repetitive movements can cause a lot of tension in your elbow that can move up to your shoulder, neck, and back. If you continue for long enough, it almost always ends up in some sort of arm, elbow, or wrist inflammation
The idea here is to avoid those weirdly angled repetitive movements.
There are many options, and it’s up to you to find which one suits you best.
You might want to add a console to your workflow and invest in a real console or a desktop control surface.
Maybe you will need to change your desk for one that specializes in what you do, whether it’s production, composition, mix, etc.
You can also switch your regular mouse for an ergonomic one or even a space mouse that will allow you to personalize your workflow with their customizing buttons.
Those changes in your workstation will surely take a little time to adjust to, but it will pay off in the long term.
EXERCISES FOR YOUR BODY
I’ll give you my ergonomic little secret… move!
Take every spare time you have in the studio to move your body, keep active, and stretch!
You will have a clearer mind and feel so much fresher to give your best from session to session.
You’re printing a track? Why not doing some physiotherapist exercises to fortify your back or your neck?
You are waiting on something to export? Go for some sit-ups, a plank, or some push-ups.
You are uploading your last YouTube video? Give a sun salutation a try.
There are so many little moments in the studio you can use to bring yourself back in your body, helping you have a clearer mind and feel so much fresh to get your best from each session.
One Last Thought
I know the music business can be a tough one, and we always want to give ourselves the best chances of success.
Someone told me something really valuable for that industry, but also for life in general: “ The key to success is consistency! ”
But what is the key to consistency? It’s… ergonomic!