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  1. #1
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    Default Another back/neck pain post.

    I think I asked this once before but as new folks come around I'm hoping for some fresh insight.
    I was working late last night and realized my left shoulder and left side of my back and neck were shot. I had to call it quits. For those of you who have done this longer than I have, I'd like to hear what height you have settled on for vise and chair. I just hit 30 years on the bench and 5 years of that seriously engraving. Maybe it's just time catching up with me. A recent trip to the back Doc turned up 3 arthritic vertebrae in the neck and 4 in the lower back with disc issues.
    My current setup is for dual use. 75% jewelry related and 25% engraving. The vise and turntable sit in the left side of my extremely wide drawer on my bench for most work. My A60 is on a flex arm.
    I'm currently trying to adjust posture to a more upright position so that my neck is not bent at a 45deg angle but That strains back muscles.
    I've angled my turntable somewhat to change my scope angle but there's a limit to that before the vise won't grip anymore and slides right off the turntable.
    If you have dealt with back/neck issues as they relate to the occupation and been able to alleviate them I'd love to hear what changes you've made to affect them.
    I'm transitioning from mostly jewelry to mostly engraving and at 48 years old I'm hoping to have a long career ahead of me still. Hell, I can't afford to quit.

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  3. #2
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    Layne, your problem is pretty common. Maybe 99% of those chained to a bench for decades, suffer for it sooner or later.

    My own situation was pretty extreme and made worse by physical limitations that were not of my choosing.

    My solution (and I want to start a thread on this very subject) has been to try and balance the bench time with some actual physical movement that compensates for the frozen stressful position we're condemned to in order to put the beans on the dinner table.

    I have a pipe mounted up high in a door jamb, that I walk over to and hang from for 3 or 4 minutes every other hour so.


    But I also have a daily routine for "maintenance" and I am curious as whether any others on here have anything similar? What, why or why not?


    4 days a week I ride a bike at least 10 miles. NOT in a gym - out on the roads - with cars trying to run you over, dogs chasing you and the occasional flat tire. Coupla times a month I'll do 40 to 60 miles.

    The other 3 days include light weight training, resistance bands, balance board, re-bounder and lots of stretching. Some derived from yoga, some from Tai Chi. (my S/O happens to be a Tai Chi instructor)


    I found that as long as I never miss 2 days in a row - this minimizes the daily pains from sitting all day. I have found that I "need" a minimum of one hour total per day...

    The few times here recently when I was away from home and missed up to week or 10 days of my routine - I felt like I'd been hit with sledgehammer when I got up from the bench at the end of the day.

    4 days back into the routine and I was pain-free again.


    I know you are looking for ergonomic solutions as well, but those are gonna be all over the chart. Depending on what your are doing at your bench, height, weight, age, active or sedentary lifestyle - and believe it or not - what you stuff into your face also has a great influence. Quality sleep is a huge factor. There are other deleterious effects from various vices, luckily I've pretty much outgrown all of them by now.


    Brian
    Last edited by Brian Marshall; 06-15-2017 at 04:02 PM.

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  5. #3
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    Brian just about covered all of it, but I will go ahead and add in what I do that helps. I try to make it to the gym on average 5-6 days a week and mix up my workouts between weight training and cardio.

    When I was a teen I had a ski accident that caused a compression in my spine making it hard to do a lot of back strengthening exercises however over time I've seen improvement. This caused me a lot of back problems down the road and I noticed that I had issues with my back muscles and issues with my posture. The reason I bring this up is because you mention the back muscles being strained from upright posture. A few things I can recommend in this regard is to begin doing back exercises that strengthen your back at least twice a week. Do not do any heavy lifting or anything like that but just workouts that will improve muscle stamina. In addition to this I would also like to add that stretching regularly while at the bench is very important, even if its 5 minutes every hour to get up walk around the room and do a couple 30 second stretches it will help tremendously. Finally, things such as yoga twice a week could greatly help as well, there are videos all over YouTube that can guide you and help you find poses and stretches specific to areas you need to have loosed. Hope this helps!

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  7. #4
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    Default Another back/neck pain post.

    part of my classes has always been ergonomics. First principle is make your bench fit your body,, Second principle is Don't conform your body to fit your bench. 3-10 are repeats of one and two. for hobby engravers that only do an hour or two at time, it makes no real difference if you contort your body to an awful bench setup . BUt if you are putting in 8-10 hour days, day in and day out, you need a proper setup.

    First, sit your body down (or stand if that's your thing) in a comfortable ergonomic position. Normally for sitting that is both feet flat on the floor, knees slightly higher than the buttocks, wrists higher than your elbows, head/neck erect or slightly tilted forward.
    That's you. Your unique physique in a position to work comfortably, and which everything else needs to work around.

    Next, is what optics are you using?
    scope, optivisor, loupe, etc. what power are they? which translates into what working distance does the optics give you?
    because whatever that distance is, needs to be measured from your slighty bent neck attached to your eyeballs and then outward. AT the end of this working distance is where the top of you work needs to be . If you do bigger things , the top of your vise may be several inches lower. if you do mostly flat narrow things , then it may be exactly th top of your vise. in etiher case. This is where the top of your vise HAS to be. HAS to be!
    now you can see that there is wide range depending on your optics. Using an Optivisor with 3.5X lenses, this might mean that your vise height is about even with your mouth. If you are using a microscope, it might mean that the top your vise is out from your rib cage somewhere . Or closer to your belly button.

    Vise height is the next thing to be factored in . Because obviously wherever the top of the vise , the distance to bottom of the vise is unchangeable.
    And wherever the bottom of the vise is, where you benchtop has to be. HAS to be!
    Too often I see people throw their ball vise up on a handy table and then start building everything around that. that is a recipe for backaches and chiropractor visits.

    So lets say you are using a microscope, which many if not most US engravers are these days. the bottom of the microscope and large ball vise combination most likely will put the bottom of that ball vise between your legs at crotch height. Maybe not the most convenient palce to have a table top, or disc stand. So, little history, lesson, this was where the concept of the low profile vise and turntable came from that GRS produces. When I first started teaching there in 1995, I had already arrived at this concept for my own usage, and I was engraving 50-70- hours a week back then. It was something I pushed as necessary for several years and slowly they put out several prototypes for me to try, eventually evolving into what is available now. Is it exactly what I wanted? no, but it works well enough for most people, and allows you to use a microscope in a comfortable position without the base between your legs.

    Anyway, that's the nickel speech. Please insert coin into the appropriate slot
    Last edited by pilkguns; 06-15-2017 at 09:49 PM.
    Scott Pilkington
    http://learn2engrave.com/scottshistory.shtml
    A gun and a parachute have a common dynamic. When you need one nothing else will really suffice.

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  9. #5
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    Default Another back/neck pain post.

    Andddddddddd the converse to the above is I am currently trying out a Lindsay Titan vise, a 90 lb behomouth to see how it performs. iIt is so tall that I have the disc stand down below my legs, to get comfortable, and am currently making some chips on the floor with this setup I will probably do a review of this and maybe an ergmonoics article combined for the Engraver Magazine. If you are not a FEGA member, you should be, the articles in there every three months are well worth the cost of membership
    Last edited by pilkguns; 06-15-2017 at 09:44 PM.
    Scott Pilkington
    http://learn2engrave.com/scottshistory.shtml
    A gun and a parachute have a common dynamic. When you need one nothing else will really suffice.

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  11. #6
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    Thanks guys. This is exactly the advice I was looking for. I'm bad about spending long, 4-5 hours sessions staring through the scope when I'm working on a project. On jewelry days it's not so bad since I'm back and forth from the laser welder to the polisher and to the ultrasonic and back. I suppose it will take a conscience effort to take breaks when cutting.
    Scott you make some great points about ergonomics and that is something I can adjust without a radical change to my setup. I've often thought i was working too high. Luckily I have the facility to make changes to my vise and scope position. I'll take a pain free day over convenience any day. I will certainly take a look at how i'm working and start with my body position and then adjust to fit. Only makes sense. Something that runs in short supply in my addled brain.
    I think the article on ergonomics would be well received. I'm gonna tell Andrew to hound you until it's submitted.
    Brian, I think I'm going to give the hanging stretches a shot as well. I have a bar that can be set up on any door jam.
    Just out of curiousiy, has anyone ever tried one of those upside down traction rigs? With all the spine compression I have going on it seems logical that relieving some of that pressure may be a good thing.
    Again, thanks for the detailed replies and information. It will be put to good use.
    Oh, and Scott, if you decide you don't like the Titan, I can always use another anchor for my sailboat. Hurricane season is upon us and I can never have to many!
    Last edited by Southern Custom; 06-16-2017 at 03:32 AM.

  12. #7
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    I think it was JJ who said something about having/using the upside down gadget? Inversion table, gravity boots?

    Dunno if I'd be able to hold & read a book that way though? Have to resort to audio books... probably also difficult to sip a drink in that position?


    B.

  13. #8
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    I had some problems too but my problem was about my legs.

    I sit on the chair for long time at the same position while I was pushing foot pedal, eventually one of my artery in my leg started having problems.

    It was giving me some pain during my daily life and I have always thought that it was all about my sitting position and I didn't consider it as a serious healt problem.

    A few months ago, my pain increased so much that I was not able to sleep at night because of the pain in my right leg.

    I went my doctor and he told me that it is too late.

    A normal artery should be arround 2 mm wide in one's leg but my artery was about 7 mm wide. My doctor told me that this can happen if you stay on your foot for a log time without moving or if you sit for a long time without changing your position.

    As a result, I had to have surgery. Now I don't have pain but one of my artery in my leg has gone.

    My doctor suggested me, if you have to sit for a long time, stand up in every 30 minutes and take a short walk like 2-3 minutes. I stand up in every 30 minutes and walk in the room for 3-4 minutes now.


    So, I suggest everybody to do some exercise during the day and not to sit for a long time. It is not so hard to stop engraving in every 30 minutes and take a walk for 2-3 minutes.
    May God keep your graver sharp

  14. #9
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    Yup, there is a LOT more than just your back that can give you problems in this kind of sedentary work...

    To date (over 47 years at the bench) I have had to have 5 carpal tunnel surgeries, two elbow releases and one shoulder surgery.

    I am getting scheduled this week for another elbow release.

    All of these are work related.

    When I was younger there were years of hammer & chisel and pounding an anvil that probably set me up for more than half of 'em - but engraving contributed to the other half.

    And out of the engraving & stone setting - I'm gonna bet that bright cut style Western engraving is to blame more than lettering...



    On the subject of ergonomics - I use Zeiss surgical scopes on my personal benches. The reason being that they offer literally thousands of different combinations of optics and accessories.

    No other scope I have ever tried can come close - and I have tried them all.

    Leica has comparable optics, but offers very little in the way of ergo options compared to the Zeiss OPMI.

    The main flaw with Zeiss surgical scopes is that they don't come "ready to use".

    Each one has to be built of modular components, which takes time and knowledge that is only earned by experimentation - and a healthy dollop of patience.

    I've constructed them for the same price as the Leica or less - depending on luck locating parts. The time frame varies but 3 to 6 months was average when I was making them up for students.

    Been using them for 20+ years now, though we have a brand new Leica and 8 Meijis here...


    Brian

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  16. #10
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    Thanks for the scope tip Brian. I took a look at them and they are all over the map as far as pricing and setup. It would definitely take some research and whatnot to get one of these up and running on a bench but boy do they look nice. One more toy to lust after.

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