Chris Stryczynski

Software Developer / Consultant

My ancedotal experience managing RSI as a programmer

Posted on: 18/01/2020

About 5 years ago I experienced a RSI / tendinitis flare up. This came shortly after a very stressful work project where I was working long hours and working “through discomfort” and the project kept growing in scope nearer to the finish line. I’m not sure what the underlying dynamics are, but I assume working past your strain point “wears” out your muscles/tendons significantly.

I had to stop typing completely, otherwise I would get intense stinging / itching sensations. It took me over 6 months to feel comfortable using a keyboard again. Possibly had a psychological aspect to it as well.

These days I luckily don’t experience much of any discomfort. However I’m very sensitive / paranoid that if I do feel “strain” I’ll try my best to take a break.

Some helpful things that seem to make a difference in my case:

  • Getting an ergonomic keyboard, I use a Kinesis advantage.
  • Alternating your left or right hand for your mouse / clicker. This can take a while to get used to (more than a few days) with your non dominant hand, but it’s definitely possible.
  • Changing your typing positions, I try alternate between a chair, standing (with a standing desk) and sitting on a gym ball.
  • Occasional icing if I notice any symptoms of strain - I’ll do this a two or three times a day, it’s also quite refreshing.
  • Avoiding working under “stress”, not always possible but it’s good to take into account as you’re likely to overlook your strain.
  • Exercise/working out - this seems to make a big difference if you’re not being physically active. And as opposed to feeling some strain/discomfort and avoiding exercise/working out I find it actually helps the strain/discomfort. I’m not a doctor and I’m not sure if this is valid in all cases, however it’s worth knowing/testing.

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