IT Technician’s / Developer’s Guide to Ergonomics, and treating RSI (Part 1)

This is more or less the ergonomic setup that works for me.

This is more or less the ergonomic setup that works for me.

I imagine like many of you reading this, you started with computers young, and at this point your hands and arms probably have a lot of mileage on them.

I mean seriously, let’s do the math.

The average ‘full-travel distance’ of a key press is between 3.5mm and 4mm. Now, the general consensus that I’m reading is that the average office worker types around 6000 keystrokes per day. Honestly, that seems way low for IT, but for the sake of argument let’s use that number. So:

3.5mm x 6000 per day = 21 metres per day

21 metres x 260 days (average US work year) = 5,460m per year

Average age of Network Technicians, Web Developers, Software Devlopers and other IT Professionals is around 36-38. We’ll assume they all started late (23).

5460m x 13 career years = 70,980m. or 71km per average career

That means that JUST in your professional work your fingers have probably traveled over 70km in the last 13 years.

I have to imagine that that’s a rather conservative number, as most of us started very young, use a computer for personal use, type more than that, work more than that, and are pretty much finger marathonists at this point.

The purpose of this exercise is to make clear the lesson that I’m just now learning. EVERY MILLIMETRE COUNTS. If you take nothing away from this article, remember that one lesson. Each change you make on its own will not solve your pain issues, it’s a combination of dozens of different things that will get your environment to the point where your body can seemingly keep up with the abuse. I’m not a doctor, but that’s been my experience.I still have discomfort, but at this point it’s way more tolerable, and doesn’t seem to be getting worse. Hopefully, the next set of articles after this one will cover some healing of the damage already done.

It seems like people’s attention spans for blog articles are only a few paragraphs long, so I’m going to break this into a few different sections. Each covering a set of changes that I had to make, that worked for me.

1. Work Environment (Chair, Desk, Angles, Braces, etc.)

Your Desk

Your Hands (Braces)

Your Chair

2. Input Devices (Keyboards, Mice, Touchpads, Tablets, etc.)

Mousing Devices (Mice, Touchpads, Tablets, Etc.)

3. Better Habits (Keyboard Shortcuts, work habits, phones/tablets, etc.)

4. Strengthening (Exercises, fitness, recovery, etc.)