Office health

From today I’m taking ten days off and I’ve vowed not to go anywhere near a computer to make sure I get a proper rest. Why? Because my back has been quite sore in the last few weeks and I don’t think it’s just because I recently turned 30.
Up until a few months ago, I had never had back problems. It looks like quite a few very busy months in a row have changed that, and I now have this constant dull pain in my lower back and rigidity in neck if I sit too long in front of my computer. My problem is, my job requires that I spend most of my days typing away.
My other problem is that I’m not someone who takes very well to gentle exercises known to be good for this type of health issue; I must be the only person in the world who feels incredibly wound up and borderline murderous after a yoga lesson. I much prefer a good game of football in the mud to a relaxation session in an incense-filled room, which might partly explain the back problems.
Even before any pain appeared, I was aware that I should look after my back. I have a good chair, I watch my posture, I try and take breaks (ok, that’s a lie, I always get very engrossed in my work and hours, days, weeks may pass without me taking my eyes off my screen), but it’s clearly not enough. I know a couple of people who have had severe back problems (prolapsed discs, operations and the like) who swear by the Alexander Technique, so after the yoga debacle, I thought I’d give it a go. I started taking lessons in April last year, just as my workload increased after a period of relative calm. After a few months, I hadn’t notice any change in my general health, apart from the fact that I was a lot more aware of my tendency to unconsciously tense my shoulders. So in the New Year I stopped taking lessons and since then, my back’s been really bothering me. It looks like without me realising it, my Alexander Technique lessons were actually doing me a lot of good.
So, two resolutions for when I get back:

  • I will follow all the advice in this document on office ergonomics.
  • I will have Alexander Technique lessons again.
By | 2016-10-18T15:52:04+00:00 April 8th, 2004|Freelance Translation|4 Comments

About the Author:

I am Céline Graciet, a freelance English to French translator. Since 2003 I’ve been writing on all sorts of areas linked to translation and the life of a translator.


  1. Shelagh April 8, 2004 at 2:53 pm

    I suffer from similar problems – I’ve got a slight curvature of the spine that plays hell with me sometimes 🙁 Mine’s been worse since I stopped smoking – I used to get up and go for regular fag breaks. I found getting a good, adjustable footrest and blocks to go under my monitor to raise it up really helped a lot. You do need to move regularly though – I try to do shoulder shrugs about every 20 minutes and get up and walk around every hour or so – usually just to the coffee machine and back. Of course the road to hell is paved with good intentions. I’m interested to hear about the Alexander technique, my posture is dire and I really need to do something like that.

  2. Robert Castelo April 8, 2004 at 6:39 pm

    I recommend getting an Aeron chair.
    It’s expensive, but your back problems will disappear, and it comes with a 12 year guarantee!

  3. Anita Rowland April 16, 2004 at 4:49 am

    Or, instead of the aeron chair, I use a knee chair like the HAG balans. It really helps my back and posture!

  4. céline April 20, 2004 at 10:32 am

    Thanks a lot for the advice about the chairs. That might well be the answer, I’ll look into it. Oh and I’m starting a course in Tai Chi this week, fervently praying that I’ll like it more than yoga!

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