While Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays are all about a technology of some sort this post needs the attention of the nerd community. We spend all day on our computers coding, blogging, and consuming knowledge. This leads to many problems over time that even myself deal with now. It is best to keep ergonomics in mind when updating our work space.
Before I get too far into this post, let me say first I am not a doctor. The information in this post is all based off my personal experience formed from research. So please take nothing I say in this post as a sure-fire way to heal any pain or injury. It is always better to see a trained professional than to listen to some random nerd on the internet
If you have pain in any of the areas, we mention it would be in your best interest to take the measures to fix the problem at the source. As these pains get worse, we put ourselves at risk for surgeries we might prevent. One of my friends I met in the office had surgery on his arm due to severe repetitive strain injury (RSI).
Repetitive strain injury (RSI) is a general term used to describe the pain felt in muscles, nerves and tendons caused by repetitive movement and overuse. It's also known as work-related upper limb disorder, or non-specific upper limb pain. ~ nhs.uk
This can happen to any part of the body that works in a repetitive manner. For us geeks RSI is most common it our fingers, wrists, and arms. We need to make this a major concern of ours! If we allow the pain to form or linger with no effort to fix it at the source, we may end up in a state where we can no longer use a computer. That would be terrible.
I have dealt with RSI in my hands for a few years and just took it as normal for the time I spend on the computer. This is not the case. We can have our cake and eat it too. It only takes a little discipline, time, and money to improve the pain we deal with everyday.
The rest of this post will focus on the hands since that is where I had the most pain but since solved my problem. I have lower back pain but am still working to find what the best approach is to ease the pain. Standing seems to help but is not as much of a relief as I'd like.
If you deal with lower back pain, try alternating between standing and sitting an see how it helps. It might be perfect for your condition and solve you lower back pain. It help ease my pain but has not eliminated said pain. Also please let me know if you solved this issue with another method as I would love to nip this in the bud.
Fingers & Wrists
This is an area I have dealt with for some time now and only in the last few month have I seen any success. There are many options out to deal with finger or wrist pain and it all has to do with typing. This makes sense because that is where our fingers do all the work each day.
There is a statistic that the average office worker who uses a computer as their main tool for an eight-hour day will move their fingers an incredible sixteen miles on a QWERTY keyboard! No wonder we get this pain. Our hand design was not made to do this kind of work.
The first step to help reduce the strain on our hands and wrists is to buy a better keyboard. You will find a ton of ergonomic keyboards online. The one I use in the office is the Kinesis Freestyle2 thanks to the company making the purchase for me. It is not cheap and to be honest it helped my wrists more than it has my fingers.
The Freestyle2 has the ability to tilt into a more natural position for the wrists. The keyboard angles at five, ten, and fifteen degrees. Typing at a slant takes getting used to, but it is no worse than using a new laptop keyboard for the first time. Our fingers can adapt quickly to the change in format.
The only downside to the Kinesis Freestyle2 is that it is not a mechanical keyboard. Many of us love the feel and sound of the Cherry MX switches found on many mechanical keyboards. Only a few ergonomic keyboards come with mechanical switches but the price is even higher than the Freestyle2. This is because it is such a specific niche to fill.
If you still have pain a few months after you change your keyboard and make sure you are not typing in some odd position. Then you are one of the unlucky (or lucky?) souls that need to change the layout of the keyboard. Once you find one that has the best track record for solving your issue you get the joy of learning to type again!
It is both terrible and freeing to learn a new keyboard layout. Terrible because our fingers have years of engrained muscle memory we are now working to reverse. Also there is brain rewiring going on. This all adds up to the most frustrating two weeks of your life.
Yet it is freeing to know you are working towards a less painful experience. I made the switch to the Dvorak Simplified Keyboard at the end of October 2017. I will never go back to QWERTY. At the time I write this I experience no finger pain when typing for long periods of time.
My speed is not as fast as I was on QWERTY but as time goes on I will be back there. Remember when I said that our fingers move sixteen miles a day an the QWERTY layout? Well that same amount of typing is only a single mile on the Dvorak Simplified Keyboard and it is glorious!
Thanks for reading!
If you have any questions please ask and I will do my best to get you the answer.