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.

desk-exercises-for-repetitive-stress-injury

 

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:

micro-pause

Workrave

For PC there’s Workrave (http://www.workrave.org). 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.

overview

Time Out

For Mac there’s Time Out (http://www.dejal.com/timeout). 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!

 

sitting-is-killing-you

 

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.