Repetitive Strain Injury


Typing is wonderful. Deep down I am fully aware of this: I can type faster than writing long-hand, everyone can read typed words (can’t say so for my handwriting); it can be stored without needing reams of paper; it saves pens; and editing is super easy.

But, my goodness, I am an RSI sufferer (a mild one, to be honest, but it’s still annoying). I never quite seem to get the chair/desk height/arm angle/screen height right, and just a few hours at the computer leads to creaking wrists, aching shoulders and a sore neck. I do have all the extras – external mouse, external keyboard, external screen, nice office chair, adjustable desk – but still I can’t take too many uninterrupted hours at the computer.

I am lucky in that I have relatively mild complaints, and most similar cases can be resolved by simple strategies (regular breaks, change in activities, rest etc). If you suffer serious symptoms of RSI, you made need the services of a physiotherapist – but the best cure is prevention. Sitting 9 hours every day typing without many breaks, then another 2 hours playing guitar would probably increase your risk level…

For some time, I have been making a list of how wonderful my life will be once the PhD is finished. Less RSI is definitely one of the major highlights I’m looking forward to (along with reading those novels I’ve been meaning to read for ages, going to the theatre, doing a bit of travelling, starting a new sport). Although, to be honest, much of my post-PhD worklife will probably still involve similar hours at the laptop. I wonder is there research showing a correlation in our working style and numbers of RSI sufferers?

I’m off for a short walk, a bit of arm wind-milling and wrist rotating in the hope that I’ll be able to get through the rest of the day without too much discomfort.


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Filed under Academia and research, Health, Work/life balance

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