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      This article seems to make some wrong assumptions, like so many RSI/ergonomics articles. I’ll cover some of them below. RSI/ergonomics articles usually frustrate me greatly, so apologies in advance for the wall of text.

      Tilting wrists up is bad - the normal up-sloping keyboard is bad. It should be exactly the opposite:

      Negative tilt as it’s called is often not an option when sitting, as it requires either a very flat keyboard or a desk that is very low. When standing you have more flexibility in this regard, but it depends on the height of the keyboard.

      Long key travel (sideways) is bad therefore QWERTY is bad.

      IIRC there is no hard evidence for this. There are a bunch of websites out there that measure the “quality” of the layout, but this usually comes down to “more moving around = bad”. From my own experience, that’s far too short-sighted. For example, the way you bend fingers and which ones you use impacts the stress on the muscles.

      Multiple pressure at the same time is bad, therefore Ctrl+C/S/V with one hand is bad.

      Pressing up to two keys at a time should be fine, provided all keys are within reach. Especially if you move Control somewhere on the home row (e.g. where caps lock usually is), then Ctrl+V/etc are fine.

      Exercise helps sometimes - pushups, pullups, dips, and situps. Not too much, though. Sleep too. But it doesn’t always fix RSI.

      Pushups don’t do shit about RSI, as IIRC you use different muscle groups. Also be very careful with exercise in general, as putting more stress on already overworked muscles can do some real damage. Situps also don’t do anything, and can actually hurt your spine if done on a surface not soft enough.

      If you have determined your muscles are ready for exercise (e.g. you have given them enough rest), try deadlifts and squats. Squats help with circulation, deadlifts I found to really help strengthen your arm/wrist muscles.

      It is never “cured”, just managed. Know what triggers your RSI.

      RSI is a result of poor posture/etc, and a result you can cure. RSI isn’t some weird trait you inherit and can’t get rid of. It just may take a long time.

      Have multiple keyboards, switch every 10 minutes (seriously!) or twice a year

      No idea what benefits this would bring. In fact, I suspect it will just be frustrating as you have to relearn key positions/etc every time. Just get one good keyboard that you can remap.

      Comfortbead Wrist Rest

      Avoid wrist rests like the plague. Palm rests have their uses, but they are rarely the exact right height. Just learn to hover type instead.

      Take breaks every 10-45mins - apparently you can use Workrave (or AntiRSI for Mac or other software) to enforce breaks.

      Anything above 20 minutes is too much. I currently use a break schedule of a 30 seconds break every 20 minutes, and 5 minutes every 60 seconds. IIRC there are some parts of your body that just start entering sleep mode after about 20 minutes of sitting, and standing up really helps with that.

      The rest of the article just appears to be a list of resources found elsewhere, without any real insight. So I will give my own advice, which hopefully is a bit more useful. As a background, I have been programming professionally for about 10 years:

      • Bookmark http://www.triggerpoints.net/ and use it to massage the right muscles when they hurt. Get a lacrosse ball or similar to help with this. This is especially useful when massaging your back: place the ball on your back and against a wall, then massage your muscles like a bear scratching its back against a tree.
        • Basically just as we have collections of libraries to use when writing code, you should build a collection of tools/techniques to help take care of yourself
      • Take breaks every 20 minutes at least, and get off your ass. I wrote this program for it, which also tells me to do certain exercises
      • Get a keyboard that allows you to remap your keys. Move keys away from your pinkies as much as you can. Base your layout on what keys you actually need and how often, instead of just randomly moving them around.
        • Something like the Ergodox or many of its derivatives should suffice
      • Consider something like Colemak or other layouts as a base (in addition to the above). There is no hard evidence these layouts are better, but in my experience at least Colemak appears to reduce stress on my fingers compared to QWERTY
      • Use a hand wrap or some sort of wrist compression sleeve, and put that around your wrist. I found this to help tremendously when I stopped using my palm rests in favour of hover typing.
      • Rely less on pointer devices, though you are unlikely to be able to avoid them entirely. In order of worst to best: regular mice/trackpads, vertical mice, thumb track balls, finger track balls.
        • I am using a Kensington Slimblade, after having used a variety of different mice types. It’s the first mouse that I don’t hate
      • Get a good chair. Look for one where the back rest follows the natural curvature of the spine, and comes with some form of lower-back support (e.g. the posture-fit system in Aeron chairs)
        • I have two Aeron chairs for this reason. They cost a lot of money, but they are absolutely worth it
      • Get a headrest. Not to rest your head on, but to provide a reference for where you should keep your head. I found that I was hanging my head forward, and adding a head rest helped. I have it set up so that in the right position I barely feel it (it basically just touches my hair), which is enough to keep my head in the right position.
      • Your upper legs should be at a 90 degree angle compared to your torso, and your lower legs at 90 degrees relative to your upper legs. Different angles can lead to a tingling feeling in your legs, an indication of reduced circulation or nerve pressure. Avoid that at all costs.
        • So you should sit like `
      • Realise that every case is unique, and that most people out there (including doctors) have no idea what they are doing when it comes to ergonomics. As such, you will have to experiment a lot to find out what works best for you
        • I had a colleague who ended up off worse because she was made to do exercises by a doctor, which resulted in her muscles getting fried. IIRC she was unable to work for about half a year as a result.

      There’s probably more, so I’m happy to answer any questions.

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        5 minutes every 60 seconds

        I know this is a typo but I swear I’ve worked with people who take 5 minute breaks every 60 seconds.

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          Oops! That is meant to say every 60 minutes; Unfortunately, it seems I can no longer edit the comment.

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        Thanks for sharing your views. I think the author would love to hear this. You should reach to @swyx on twitter.

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        Kensington Slimblade

        Thanks for the recommendation. Just ordered one.

        I’ve already gotten a good deal of relief by turning my desk into a standing desk, but every little bit helps and I use the mouse more than I’d like given some of the very non keyboard friendly website I use for work.

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          A tip for the Slimblade if you use a split keyboard: consider putting the Slimblade in the middle, and rotate it a bit so you don’t have to angle your wrist when using it. So instead of this:

          | o |   <-- Slimblade (sides parallel to your sides)
           | |    <-- hand
            \ \   <-- wrist
             \ \  <-- forearm

          You use it like this:

          \ o \   <-- Slimblade (rotated to the left by about 45 degrees)
            \ \   <-- hand
             \ \  <-- wrist
              \ \ <-- forearm
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            Thanks. I’m not currently using a split keyboard, just a good mechanical.

            Always felt a little odd about pulling the trigger on an Ergodox or similar because of the price point. $200-ish on a good keyboard feels reasonable. $1000 does not. This is almost irrational on my part, but it is :)

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              The Ergodox is definitely expensive, and takes some getting used to. In my case I switched from a HHKB2 Pro with QWERTY, so the Ergodox with a custom Colemak Mod-DH layout. I believe I have been using it for 9-10 months now, and only recently managed to hit 100 WPM (with very few errors). I think with QWERTY I sat around 120-140 WPM, but with a higher error rate.

              With that all said, I’m very happy with my setup; but it definitely takes some willpower to power through the first few weeks of typing very slowly.

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              The split keyboard I use with my Slimblade in the middle is a Dygma Raise which still uses the standard staggered layout: https://dygma.com/ Here is a picture of someone else’s setup with an ELECOM trackball instead, looks similar to mine: https://twitter.com/DygmaLab/status/1280476663638364160

              I do have an ErgoDox EZ but, as long as I need to switch to other keyboards often, the Raise is a better solution overall with its negligible adaptation time back and forth.

              It’s a 60% (no numpad, function key row, navigation cluster) design meant for gamers and I do miss the function keys (not the cursor though: CapsLock + I/J/K/L) but so far it’s the best one I’ve found for my needs.

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              Not sure where you got $1,000 from. Both my Ergodoxes (Infinity and EZ) were secondhand from eBay and I got them for about $150 each, but a new Ergodox EZ is $350. The Moonlander (from the EZ team) is $360 shipped.

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                Yep I was totally wrong. I see $350.

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          I’m using a Kensington Expert Mouse that has a scroll wheel around the ball, so I’m quite curious if SlimBlade’s approach to scrolling feels any good.

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            Well I just plugged mine in and initial impressions are I REALLY like it. The ‘spin the marble’ approach to scrolling is super natural as it has tacile clicky feedback so you know you’re scrolling.

            Definitely a big upgrade from a regular old mouse.

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            Before buying mine I read a review where the author wasn’t happy with it at all, saying that often, rotating the ball was misinterpreted as mouse movements. In my case it works wonderfully, and it even has a bit of built-in literal inertial scrolling: I spin it fast and it keeps going for a little while (around 1s) until it stops.

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            I’ll let you know with the proviso that all this stuff is SUPER subjective :) I thought about the expert but chose the slimblade both because of multiple recs here and elsewhere and because the smaller form factor works better for my super cramped desk.

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      Unpopular opinion here – RSI articles that focus on ergonomics, special design keyboards and pointing devices, special chairs and tables are looking at the wrong places. Looking around me, I see a lot of people that have been working in horrible conditions ergonomics-wise for years and have not experienced RSI. I have a feeling there’s an entire RSI industry out there preying on gullible geeks with deep pockets.

      I think the key to solving such a problem is to focus on yourself. To me RSI is a general health issue symptom. Address the root cause, get healthier and stronger. RSI will disappear.

      Let’s start with the obvious. Don’t be fat. You’d be amazed how many health issues vanish into thin air once you shed the pounds. Start eating like an adult and eat what you believe is good for you instead of what’s available around you.

      Next, get stronger. Strength training worked for me by addressing several issues. I will go through each one with a calisthenics (the most fun way to strength-train!) perspective:

      • Grip training. Don’t assume you need to squeeze weird devices. All you need here is pull-ups and passive hanging from a high bar.
      • Wrist training. Start with push-ups, progress to dips, handstands are king! Pike push-ups and the general handstand push-up progression will get you bulletproof. Look into gymnastics rings – probably the best bang for your buck fitness device.
      • Improving posture. The key here is core training. Fun counter-intuitive fact - most people’s backs stop hurting when they strengthen their abs and/or glutes. Bad shoulder posture? Hanging from a bar helps here a lot.

      Where do I start? I’d go for /r/bodyweightfitness’s Recommended Routine (check the sidebar). Not enjoying calisthenics? Try something else. Kettlebells, dumbbells, traditional barbell work should all be able to get you the same health benefits.

      “But what about emotional issues, aren’t those real?” Yes, they are. The good news is that once you take care of your health, and get into a consistent strength training program, you will greatly reduce your stress levels and get much more calm and self-confident. You could do additional work on emotional problems, but, even if you don’t, just taking care of the physical issues will help with the emotional ones.

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        Next, get stronger. Strength training worked for me by addressing several issues. I will go through each one with a calisthenics (the most fun way to strength-train!) perspective:

        Grip training. Don’t assume you need to squeeze weird devices. All you need here is pull-ups and passive hanging from a high bar.

        Add to that a bit of specific targeting of pinch strength. It’s easy to grab a steel plate between fingers and thumb or palm the head of a barbell and simply hold it to failure. Switch hands and repeat. Another suggestion is using a weighted wrist roll like this example which builds motion and forearm strength.

        Wrist training. Start with push-ups, progress to dips, handstands are king! Pike push-ups and the general handstand push-up progression will get you bulletproof. Look into gymnastics rings – probably the best bang for your buck fitness device.

        Those are great but remember that the planche itself is pretty advanced for most people. I was already fit (bike, run, weights) and it’s taken me about a year of 2x weekly practice (yoga) to get a solid crow pose/tuck planche, and then a wobbly planche extension, decent L-sit, and a solid tripod headstand (still working on a handstand without tipping over or hand-walking). I find the balance/priopreception harder than strength. Specific practice instead of fifteen minutes as part of an intermediate/advanced yoga class is probably better if the gymnastics are the goal but the overall benefit of the class works for me.

        Where do I start? I’d go for /r/bodyweightfitness’s Recommended Routine (check the sidebar). Not enjoying calisthenics? Try something else. Kettlebells, dumbbells, traditional barbell work should all be able to get you the same health benefits.

        I agree about r/bodyweightfitness. A lot of very good advice in the sidebar.

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      I used to have really bad RSI; now it is substantially better despite me being ten years old. Benefit of age is that you have a faster feedback cycle as to what constitutes decent posture. Not perfect, just decent. (You still have to pay attention.)

      Triggers for me:

      • Not dealing with emotional/mental issues
      • Lack of fit with employer (constant low-level stress for me)
      • Poor posture
      • Bad sleep quality
      • Muscle imbalances

      (Note that most of these are highly subjective in nature. Many people don’t even know they sleep poorly because they get accustomed to it.)

      RSI is hard because it can be difficult to track down exactly what’s wrong, and the body/mind can take a substantial amount of time to adequately heal. I saw a lot of different doctors when I had RSI, and few could tell me much beyond, “you have a lot of cortisol,” which I figured out well enough on my own.

      For me, weight-lifting is as close to a cure-all as there is for RSI. It hits almost all of my triggers simultaneously, along with generating endorphins + testosterone.

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        Incredibly eloquent post for a ten-year old. :)

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          I think it’s sad that a 10-year old has RSI :(

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            Eloquence at 10 comes at a price. ;)

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          This is why I don’t just write comments without going through the full publication process :(

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            fwiw, as someone formerly suffering from RSI-like symptoms your comment has further confirmed my belief that weightlifting helped lesson my afflictions.

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      Here’s what fixed my RSI: stopping my super smash bros melee habit

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        Yeah I hear you. I could kick myself, I only started experiencing RSI after I dug my Mattel Intellivision out of storage. Even bought an awesome flash cart for it.



        You hold the thing in your hand and flex your thumb at a really awkward angle both to push the very hard to actuate side buttons for firing and the like and to move the odd ‘disc’ movement controls.

        I mean, it’s inhuman.

        Makes me sad, I had delusions of grandeur about learning CP1610 assembler and writing my own game / testing it with the flash cart :)

        Now I’m just waiting for the pandemic to end so I can get it to some young person who’ll be able to enjoy it without crippling themselves :)

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          Makes me sad, I had delusions of grandeur about learning CP1610 assembler and writing my own game / testing it with the flash cart :)

          You could print your own controller, and make the ergonomics good…

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            I could, but I don’t own a 3D printer and have zero physical object design skills.

            Also the controllers are hard wired into this console. I’d rather pass it off intact to another retro enthusiast who’d enjoy it.

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      For me, the biggest thing is making sure to rest your hands when they start getting stiff, instead of just pushing through. Usually, for me, this means finding a stand for my phone, or otherwise slowing down my electronics usage.

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      I was kinda surprised to see the Veritcal Mouse as a recommendation because that would SEEM to just transfer the strain of using one to your thumb, and at least in my case thumb strain can be a source of pain in and of itself.

      Avoiding the mouse entirely wherever possible feels like a good strategy. Finding software/operating system environments which enforce keyboard shortcuts for EVERYTHING can be a challenge.

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        Personally, I’ve found vertical mice to be much more comfortable in the long-term. That being said, I also agree with the sentiment of avoiding mouse use as a first principle.

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          I just ordered a Kensington Slimblade given @yorickpeterse recommendation among others.

          I’ve wanted a trackball for years.

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          Good to know.

          I’ve definitely been thinking a change is in order. Got to decide between trying the vertical mouse and getting a trackball.

          I’m leaning towards trackball since like an idiot I started down the RSI path by really straining my thumb.

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        Vertical mice are better than regular mice in every way, except for gaming (internal components of vertical mice usually aren’t as good as those found in gaming mice). But in my opinion that’s only the case because regular mice are about the worst you can do ergonomics wise. I used two vertical mice for a while: a cheap Anker mouse, and a Logitech MX Vertical.

        The Anker is cheap in every sense of the word, and I kept knocking it over when reaching for it (due to its fin-like shape). The only good thing about it is the price: between $20 and $30, depending on where you buy it. I recommend avoiding this mouse.

        The MX Vertical is better, but doesn’t really allow you to rest your hand on the mouse. As such, you have to fight gravity a bit more compared to a normal mouse.

        Vertical mice only solve one problem of regular mice: your wrist angle/position. They don’t solve the problem of straining your shoulder muscles by moving your mouse around. As such, I only recommend them if you don’t have any other options available.

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          I also use the Anker mouse.

          I use one for right hand and one for left (because they are sculpted differently). I switch about once a month. It helps with RSI.

          I am comfortable, for some reason, using both right and left hand for mouse. And mostly use left-handed, even though, I am generally right-handed.

          I can also use them in one session, but I am Emacs shortcuts person – so I mostly use mouse when I am in the browser, or debugging with breakpoints, or accessing IDE menu.

          My pain is usually in the elbow, or where shoulder meets the neck. If there is a flare, pretty bad pain can last for over a week (but it can be controlled with ibuprofen).

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        Yeah, I tried the Vertical Mouse and, for me, that was exactly what it did. I no longer use it. I have also tried a variety of trackballs which I no longer use. I don’t have a good mouse solution right now, everything is horrible.

        This stuff is very individual though. I’m sure there are people who get benefit from the Vertical Mouse, and I’m glad they do.

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          Mice in general and that whole class of human/computer interaction seems really unfortunate to me.

          It’s one of the things I really value about Elementary Linux. You can do anything and EVERYTHING with the keyboard.

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          Would using the keyboard mouse layer - my UHK has a mouse layer, be an answer?

          I’ve only ever messed with it as fun feature, and not tried using it in anger, partly as I love using my Logitech trackball mouse, although my favourite keyboard mouse was the nipple buttons on Thinkpad keyboards. I’m waiting for a trackball module for my UHK, it will be interesting to find out if that is a good approach to minimal movement mice…

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            It would probably be helpful if I were more impaired, yeah. My first choice is to find ways to do more without the mouse. I’ve switched back to Linux recently, which helped a lot with that.

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      The book “It’s not Carpal Tunnel Syndrome” helped me eliminate pain by becoming aware of slouched shoulders and leaning on elbows as a source.


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        Yes. I’d gotten used to a sit/stand desk for the last few years at work, then the pandemic hit and I was back to old sitting slouching bad habits full time, and RSI kicked in for the first time ever (Oh, also, perfect storm - see Intellivision stupidity in my other response :).

        Using a standing mat and a standing keyboard riser to make my home desk into a standing desk has helped a LOT along with wearing my wrist brace, almost to the point where I’m not in pain on the regular anymore.

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      Map Capslock to Ctrl

      Oh, hello dear Latin script typer! Let me tell how the rest of the world uses Caps lock…

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        I’m interested in this: do you mean switching between QWERTY and йцукен or something else?

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          I mean switching between any kinds of layouts (Cyrillic, Greek, Arabic, Chinese, etc.) Caps Lock is a common key to use for that because it’s mostly useless otherwise.

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      I’ve got it pretty bad in my right wrist :-/ Not sure what to do. I spend 10+ hours every day at the keyboard. A good night’s sleep helps, but I can always feel the dull ache.

      Going to the gym regularly seemed to help, pre-covid. I’ve been unable to go to the gym since the pandemic.

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      RSI for me has always been triggered by over-reliance on the mouse. I try to do as much as I can from the home-row of the keyboard and avoid the mouse as much as possible. I also switch mouse hands whenever I start to notice any RSI like symptoms in one hand. I also try to pay attention to my posture and my hand placement on the keyboard, but for me definitely the mouse has been the major contributing factor to RSI flare-ups.

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      I had RSI in my right forearm only. It turned out to be my stiff-buttoned mouse that was the problem. I switched to an Apple mouse, which you click the whole top of with your shoulder and elbow rather than clicking one button with one finger, and I’ve never had such a problem since.

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      I’ve been having some tingling sensation in my right index finger for a while and I’ve discovered that using a wrist band really helps. I usually cut the tip of a sock and roll it around my wrist until it’s just thick enough and it feels perfectly comfortable using my keyboard and mouse.

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      i’ve had problems with my mouse arm due to the corner of the desk. an oversized mousepad fixed that for me, giving me a softer ground to rest my arm on, taking away the hard corner: https://youtu.be/ZGqNlpe__Y0?t=141

      unfortunately it seems that they aren’t produced anymore