To become a skilled video editor, you know there’s only one way. You have to sit down and edit, edit, edit. When you’ve done that for months, years or decades, you know all about the pain and damage it can cause to wrists, thumbs, neck and back. Let’s look at some of the things you can do to avoid or reduce the pain and damage:

Get The Right Chair and Set It Up Properly

The chair may be the most important component of a healthy working environment. Ideally it is a well-designed, adjustable chair. Not all of us can afford to buy a “Herman Miller Aeron”. This chair was a “Designs of the Decade” Gold Winner in “Office Furniture” from the Industrial Designers Society of America & Business Week magazine. If your budget can’t quite swing that one, just do a search for “ergonomic chairs” and you will find lots of possibilities.

No matter what adjustable chair you have, adjust the height of the chair so elbows are at a slightly greater than 90 degree angle to the desk and keyboard. Now let’s check how you sit.

Healthy Sitting Posture

  • Hips, elbows, and knees should be at slightly open angles which means greater than 90 degrees.
  • Thighs should be roughly parallel with the floor
  • Reclining slightly takes pressure off the lower back.
  • Feet flat on a footrest or the floor.
  • Vary your position and move around

Healthy Way to Use a Keyboard

  • Don’t pound the keys. Use the minimum force required
  • Keep your wrists in a straight position, don’t bend up or down
  • Keep your elbows at 90 degrees or more
  • Relax Your shoulders, keep elbows at your side
  • Never use wrist rests or armrests while typing. Only use rests when you have stopped typing
  • Keep your body centered on the section of the keyboard you use the most, usually the letters. That would mean you should keep the letter “b” centered with your belly.
  • Use keyboard shortcuts as appropriate because some keyboard shortcuts can significantly reduce the amount of typing you need to do.

Repetitive Stress Injuries, Repetitive Strain Injuries or just RSI

It is much better to prevent injuries than to heal them.

Some forms of RSI can give long lasting injuries. It is therefore important that you treat your body well from the start. One cannot cure RSI by buying a new mouse or keyboard. Although these things can help alleviate the pain, it is advisable to take some of the precautions listed below.

Make sure your office/workstation is set up ergonomically.

Follow the advice you can find on some of the sites under Office Ergonomics

Use a variety of input tools

Change your mouse, trackpad, pen, keyboard etc. Try using your mouse in your other hand.

Take many short breaks

Use your breaks to stretch, massage, or just relax completely.

Stretch often (before it’s too late)

Stretching helps reduce muscle tension. In general, though, don’t stretch if it hurts. If you already suffer from RSI, some exercises can be harmful. Seek professional help.

Let go of the mouse

Hold the mouse loosely, and let it go when not in use. Invest in an ergonomic mouse or a mouse with a scroll wheel, or both. Make sure the mouse is placed so you can get maximum support for your arm.

Reduce double click speed

Reducing double click speed reduces the strain on your fingers.

Use keyboard shortcuts

Just about all mouse compatible programs have keyboard shortcuts. Many of the shortcuts are standardized. Especially programs for Macintosh and newer programs from Microsoft follow a strict standard with regards to keyboard shortcuts which means if you can do it in one program you can do it in the others as well. Learn ten of the most used shortcuts by heart and you’re on your way.

Keep warm

Cold tendons and muscles are at a greater risk of being damaged.

Don’t use the computer frivolously

Avoid games, chat and the like.

If you suspect that you might be suffering from RSI, then do as you would with any other illness: Contact a professional. Talk with your Doctor or seek a therapist who specializes in RSI, and have them suggest a treatment. To learn more about Repetitive Stress Injury or RSI

From The Cornell University Ergonomics Web

12 tips for an Ergonomic Computer Workstation

  1. use a good chair with a dynamic chair back and sit back in this
  2. top of monitor casing 2-3″ (5-8 cm) above eye level
  3. no glare on screen, use an optical glass anti-glare filter where needed
  4. sit at arms length from monitor
  5. feet on floor or stable footrest
  6. use a document holder, preferably in-line with the computer screen
  7. wrists flat and straight in relation to forearms to use keyboard/mouse/input device
  8. arms and elbows relaxed close to body
  9. center monitor and keyboard in front of you
  10. use a negative tilt keyboard tray with an upper mouse platform or downward tiltable platform adjacent to keyboard
  11. use a stable work surface and stable (no bounce) keyboard tray
  12. take frequent short breaks (microbreaks)

For more information about these tips, see The Cornell University Ergonomics Web