I imagine most individuals floating around here work a lot on computers. I, for one, work 8 hours a day or more with a mouse and keyboard. Sadly, I’ve been dealing with some wrist and arm pain from use. I’m now seeing a chiropractor and that’s helping me out. I’m also using apps that force me to take microbreaks throughout the day.
For each of you, how are you working to prevent or reduce potential repetitive strain injury from using the computer? I’m looking for ideas on how I can help mitigate what I’m dealing with further.
I used to have one of those ergonomic wired keyboards and tried out one of those gel wrist rests.
Here are some Amazon searches:
I haven’t used them in a while. It took a little time to get adjusted to them but it becomes second nature after a month of use.
I remembered a tip that you should get a chair that has armrests that are adjustable. Make the armrest high enough to let your elbow and forearm rest on them to help support your arm.
But rest is often the best remedy until a time when your wrists have recovered.
I used to use a wrist support for a while. But I worried about my wrist getting atrophied and weaker if I wasn’t working on strengthening it. I used to wear it until the pain subsided and then tried some physical therapy to hopefully strengthen it or at least keep it loose.
I wish I had the budget at this point for a Herman Miller Aeron. Those things are amazingly comfortable.
I’m currently looking at split keyboards like the Ergodox EZ (though that is $300+ shipping and import taxes). The other one I’m looking at is the Mistel Barocco. Less expensive, but possibly lower quality. The goal is less strain on my shoulders.
CGP Grey and Myke Hurley have also recommended using a Wacom tablet instead of a mouse. I’ve been considering that as well.
Having a different setup for each of my workstations helps. I have differnt types of keyboards with varying depth and size. I also have a gaming mouse for one and the trackpad for my MBP. (The magic trackpad is amazing but I can’t justify paying for it, I also have a magic mouse that I use for some tasks.)
The last thing I do is try to moves tasks to my ipad as much as possible. Being able to tap on screen mixed with typing (using magic keyboard) as seemed to help some.
I have the opposite experience with the iPad. The more I reach up to tap the screen, the more wrist and arm pain I experience. I think it has to do with where it’s rooted (in my neck, vs in my wrist).
This was my chiropractor’s recommendation. I’ve done this too. Helped a lot so far.
@joebuhlig I have to admit I’m considering the transition to Dvorak. I played with the layout for about 90 minutes last week just to see how challenging the transition may be. It would be a difficult transition. I have to type for communication in my job about 85% of the time right now. Justifying the transition may be hard looking at the short term. That being said, I could feel the lower strain on my arms, hands, and wrists from typing in that short window.
I did the transition in a down period. Not sure you’ll be able to do that unless you have an upcoming vacation where you plan to do a daily amount of leisure typing. Start on Friday afternoon and work on a Rails project over the weekend with Dvorak? That’s the closest I can get.
I do know that code projects help drive it home faster due to the lack of “flow” with characters.
I’ve continued to see a chiropractor for this problem, and that’s helped a lot. #1 problem is posture. Chiropractic care has helped with that in some significant ways.
I’ve also started to use my standing desk for the mornings. I feel better doing this, and it puts less strain on my shoulders and back right away.
At this point, I’m holding off on Dvorak. I did, however, decide to buy the Ergodox-EZ keyboard. After much thought and consideration, I decided the money was worth the potential savings in pain and discomfort by being able to have a more ergonomic keyboard setup. Plus, it’s super fiddly customizable! It may be a while before I receive this keyboard, so I’ll report back once I have some time with it.
Hey all - wanted to report back on my Ergodox EZ purchase. I wrote up a little piece on my blog about it, which you can check out here if you like.
TL;DR – The Ergodox is a great keyboard. Time will tell just how helpful it is ergonomically for me. I do see some improvement in regards to pain in my wrists. However, my right wrist is still dealing with some pain. I think this is partially due to readjusting my muscle memory, and partly to mouse use.
Have you considered the Wacom tablet for replacing the mouse? I know that having a good mouse makes a huge difference, but even then the pain can still ensue. I’ve considered having this as a backup and switch back and forth.
That keyboard looks really interesting. My only concern with it would be traveling and taking it with me. You’ll have to be dedicated to it in order to grant it permanent stay in your mobile office.
I was using a Wacom tablet instead of a mouse for the past 10 years and this worked well. I cannot use a mouse due to RSI in my pointing finger. I’ve recently switched to the magic pad 2 and this seems to be working although is not as accurate and handy as the Wacom was.
No, the Wacom (I use it with the pen), works pretty much like a traditional pen. I can use a conventional mouse for about 5-10 min before RSI prevents me from using it. I can use the Wacom pen all day. I only use the magic pad because I no longer do a lot of graphics. The problem for me was having to click and hold the mouse button while dragging the mouse.
Biggest thing for me was moving to a standing desk & zero-drop shoes. That took most back & leg issues away.
Honestly learning hotkeys, shortcuts and using Alfred has helped minimize the need for a mouse. I use a MacBook so I’m not sure if the unpopular new keyboard helps or hurts my hands & wrists long term. It’s been fine for the past year or so. Before that I had a PC whose trackpad was horrific so anything looks better now.
This has been huge for me as well. It seems like the keyboard is far better than a mouse on my hands. But I didn’t get into shortcuts for RSI as much as speed. It’s just a lot faster to switch focus with a keyboard than lose a second moving to a mouse.
It is expensive, but I love this keyboard. I use it with the tent option.
Also expensive, but I love the vertical mouse as well. Gives a much more natural hand position while still retaining control.
Looks like this is a new revision with some additional features. I have the first revision. I love this mouse, but I think people have a tendency to overload it and use it for too much. And this tends to aggravate RSI.
This is my preferred trackball.
I love Razer mice too. I’ve been playing around with a gaming mouse as well to see if it helps.
I’m currently playing around with the programmable buttons on the Hex. Gaming mice are designed for precision and extended comfort so they often help with RSI. They also often have a hardware “precision” button to speed up / slow down tracking which is nice if you need that sort of thing.
Some have suggested the foot petals are pretty awesome for some things too. I know a guy who set the pedals up as modifier keys.
Agreed. I’ve paid a lot more than this for a mouse before as well. I actually use multiple depending on what I want to do. As you say, if you need them, then you need them.
I am right-handed. I have a trackpad setup to the left of my keyboard (used mostly for swipe gestures–changing spaces, etc).
I have a kinesis blue, split and in tent mode in the middle.
I swap out an MX Master mouse, vertical mouse, or Logitech trackball on the right depending on how my right wrist feels.
Yup. I didn’t know about them either until I started down the path of the Kinesis programmers keyboards.
Most of the people I know who use them are vim/emacs people. And so they use them for modifier keys and scrolling.
One guy has a set of Kenesis pedals (they are good at multiple simultaneous pedals), and two sets of cheaper ones (they are not good at multiple pedals). He uses the Kenesis ones for emacs and the rest for scrolling, etc.
Here’s an old picture from a while back of the keyboard. This is when I was just trying to use the trackpad of a MacBook and a magic mouse. Those have been replaced with the config mentioned above.