Software tools to avoid Repetitive Strain Injury

Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) can be defined as a painful condition linked to performing a repetitive activity for long periods of time. If your work depends on that you sit all day at a computer –like mine– it’s crucial that you find a way to take periodic breaks to do some stretching exercises.



But there are days that I’m in the zone, you know? I sit down to work and suddenly is lunch time and I’ve spent 3 hours straight without even looking up. That’s a recipe for pain. I need some kind of reminder to change my position, stretch, stand up, go to the toilet, etc.

Fortunately, there’s software for that!

I use a time out timer, an app that’s constantly running in the background and reminds you from time to time to take a break. I’ve found on for Mac and one for PC:


For PC there’s Workrave ( When it’s time for a break, a popup window appears asking you to take a break. It automatically disappears if you keep working. But if you ignore it too often, it gets more adamant and pops up a break window that can be configured to completely block your computer during the break.

Time Out

For Mac there’s Time Out ( From time to time it fades your screen to gray and displays a timer reminding you to take a micro-break for a few seconds, or a full, longer break.


Both apps are configurable and the time between breaks and micro-breaks can be adjusted to your preferences or working habits.

A constant periodic reminder that you have to take a break can get really annoying really fast. It takes a little to get used to, but it surely beats being killed by your computer!




I’ve also looked into buying a standing desk. The categorial review of standing desks is at The Wirecutter. But you might not want to invest $500-$1000 on a desk, so there are two other, cheaper alternatives:

  • The $22 IKEA do-it-yourself standing desk it’s a great option to try out a standing desk and not having to build it with beer cans.
  • Varidesk sits atop your current desk and transforms it into a fully adjustable standing desk. Some colleagues have it at work and it’s definitely not gimmicky. It’s pretty cool actually.


If you want to read more about RSI, I found two good resources in the UK’s NHS website: tips on how to avoid RSI and a guide on how to sit correctly.

By Daniel Pradilla

Soy arquitecto de software y ayudo a la gente a mejorar sus vidas usando la tecnología.

En este sitio, intento escribir sobre cómo aprovechar las oportunidades que nos ofrece un mundo hiperconectado. Cómo vivir vidas más simples y a la vez ser más productivos.

Te invito a revisar la sección de artículos destacados. Si quieres contactarme, o trabajar conmigo, puedes usar los links sociales que encontrarás abajo.

118 replies on “Software tools to avoid Repetitive Strain Injury”

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