Saving your back and hands from RSI and similar pain
I took part in a occupational-health-related thread recently, and wrote a bit of my experience which might be helpful for my readers, many of them avid keyboard users, with usually ≥8hr of typing per day.
(…) I suffered not from RSI but from painful back aches. I started using standard keyboards in a different fashion, not putting so much stress on my wrists (and on the muscles connecting them to the rest of the body, of course): I exclusively use US keymaps (with some modifications to allow for proper Spanish input and ﬀŭₙṅý characters), but instead of making the middle row my fingers’ home row, I type with the base position of my fingers in a V shape — Fingers resting on (approx.) w-e-f-v-spacebar and spacebar-m-l-;-]; the fingers doing most of the travelling are the index and middle, and with no straining for the little fingers to reach ` or backspace. On the other side, the most straining keys become Control and Shift, which requires closing the hands a bit too much, but are not that bad. My way does induce some new kind of stress, as my arms also have to move to reach 6 and 7, but it… Works for me™.
It looks weird and is somewhat strange to get used to, but I must say it has worked great for me. I work this way on regular and laptop keyboards, even on my netbook’s noticeably smaller one.
Anonymous 2011-04-05 12:59:37
I moved to a Dvorak layout
I moved to a Dvorak layout and then to using a TypeMatrix keyboard and it really helped. Still, wrist, arm, shoulder and back pain are all strictly related and all the tricks and gimmicks we can use do not replace the simplest form of prevention: fitness, as in regular full-body exercising including strength training and stretching.