Shoulders, posture and equipment (TOGL)

I’ve been using a Togl organiser for a few months and I’ve found it’s helped my arms and shoulders a lot. As you say, it gives you support so that you’re not having to use your muscles to hold your arms over the keyboard as you work. However, I’m beginning to wonder whether there are other things to watch out for. For example, when I rest my forearm on the ‘tray’ part at the bottom (it reminds me of a high-chair!), it means the keyboard on the shelf is about the same level as my hand and arm, so there’s a danger that I end up bending my wrists backwards (i.e. upwards) as I type, thereby placing a strain on the back of the wrist. To counteract this, I’m experimenting with a towel strapped to the tray part, to try to make sure that my wrists and hands are above the keyboard. (Hope you can follow this description!).

I’ve also started to feel a bit of strain and tenderness on the underside of my forearms. I recently bought Pascarelli and Quilter’s book, and they stress that you shouldn’t lean your arms on anything as you type and only use wrist rests while you pause. I’m not entirely sure why this is. If it’s because you’re compressing nerves and blood vessels etc, then it would mean that the Togl isn’t ideal, but if it’s referring to narrow wrist rests, then it may not apply to the broad ‘tray’ part of the Togl. Maybe my towel padding will help to reduce the effect. I’ve only just rigged it up. (And maybe the forearm effect is due to something else. For example I’ve had to revert to a normal keyboard, as my split ergonomic keyboard didn’t fit on the shelf of the Togl.)

One other thought. Because the whole thing is at an angle, it means you don’t have to keep bending your neck as you look down at the keyboard (if, like me, you don’t touch type). Great – less neck and shoulder strain. However, this could mean that your elbows are at a more acute angle than the recommended 90 degrees… Again, I don’t know the reasons behind the recommendation, and whether they still apply if your arm is being supported. I do have a specific pain in my left elbow (ulnar nerve?), but that started before I got my Togl.
I’d be interested to hear from anyone else who’s using the Togl. I don’t know why I didn’t get these extra symptoms at first. Maybe they develop over a period of weeks. I feel that I’m still much better off with the Togl. Maybe you’ll find my comments useful for anticipating / preventing potential problems before they arise. And I agree, don’t let a better set-up lull you into doing more keyboarding than you can get away with! The message I keep hearing is: don’t stay in any position for too long (even if it’s a good one). (I’ve even considered swapping from my Togl to a normal set-up from time to time). (I could ‘toggle’ between the two.

Comment 1: This is why the tilted chair is *so* important. The physiotherapist who assessed me didn’t even demonstrate the Togl without the tilted-back chair. It’s hard to describe the resulting angles. You’re leaning back, like a reclining armchair. So now, with your head and neck supported, your eyes look straight at the raised monitor. Because you’re tilted back, the elbow angles come out right again, and your forearms hover just above the angled support – there to rest on when needed, but not resting while typing. Because tilting raises your feet, you probably need a footrest. It’s a very relaxing comfortable position – no muscles are under strain at all.

Comment 2: Aha! Does your chair actually have a physical headrest, then? The PACT physio I saw did set me up with my chair at an angle, but without a head rest, and I found it put a strain on my neck muscles, stopping my head from flopping back! (Unfortunately, after trailing a chair, I’ve just put in an order for my own one, so it’s too late to swap it for one with a headrest. You also mention that you don’t rest your arms on the support while typing. Was that the advice you were given by your physio? Do you find that you can work all day like this, or does it put a strain on your muscles to keep your arms hovering above? I’d be interested to hear what advice anybody else using the Togl organiser has been given.

Comment 3:  YES – My chair is an adjustable one! Absolutely vital. I don’t rest my arms on the support while typing. That just happens naturally with the way I’ve got the set up aligned. “Do you find that you can work all day like this, or does it put a strain on your muscles to keep your arms hovering above?” – Well, I don’t work all day like that. I also have Dragon, also rest arms intermittently and often.

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