RSI battling tactics for geeks

After using computers and playing video games for 25 years, my body started to break. In the early days, ergonomics was unknown to me. As a kid playing with my first computer, I used to sit on a crappy chair, close to the monitor. I’m sure the counterfeit 8-bit Nintendo joysticks we had in Brazil also didn’t help.

After doing this for a long time, I am facing something called Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI), and it hurts a lot. Since I’m not planning to stop working with computers or any other devices commanded by buttons, I’ve been searching for tools and techniques to ease this. I’d like to share the most important information I’ve found.

Ergonomics

There’s a lot of mumbo jumbo around ergonomics, but all you need to do is to stick to the basics. I think this Ten Principles of Ergonomics article sums it up well. If you do just 25% of what is there, you will see an improvement.

Keyboard

I’m currently switching from my trusty six-year-old Happy Hacking Keyboard Pro 2 to a Kinesis Advantage LF. I researched a lot, and there are tons of people who swear this keyboard cured them of RSI. It’s still too early to tell if it will be the one for me, but I’ve noticed my hands travel way less while typing on it.

After you find the best keyboard for you, make sure you learn how to touch type. I never had proper typing training, and now I’m paying the price (in words per minute) for learning it after developing a lot of muscle memory.

Mouse

Tried bazillions of them. In the end, what makes a real difference is to use the mouse with my left hand. I still struggle to do this (after a couple months) but the pain in my right arm is much better. My hardware of choice is Evoluent VerticalMouse 4, but you will need one for each hand.

Taking breaks

Taking breaks is the most important thing you can do to fight RSI. I use two different apps to remind me to take breaks — RSIGuard and Stretch. RSIGuard is old-school, corporate-looking, and pricey (I paid $65.00 for it long time ago), while Stretch is cheap, simple and even flirts with you, for just $2.00. I use both at the same time and love them.

That’s it. My battle against RSI is far from over, but with the help of these tools, things are brighter than before. I hope this information will help you, too.

Show your support

Clapping shows how much you appreciated Rodrigo Franco’s story.