I’m a programmer by profession and also as a hobby. Sometimes I type all day. Inevitably, I started getting aches pains in my arms. I switched to a split keyboard and ergonomic trackball mouse, but things started getting worse. I went to my GP, and he sent me away telling me to type less. I started using ‘xwrits’, a UNIX program that regulates the amount you type. I had it making me break every 15 minutes for 5 minutes. But the aches still kept getting more frequent. I started taking every other day off from computers (big trauma for a hacker like me) with no noticeable improvement.
I even switched to the alternative DVORAK keyboard layout for a while. The layout is obviously better, you only have to try it for a while to realise this. There is an argument that the superiority of the DVORAK keyboard is a myth – well this is in turn a myth. Unfortunately I’m a QWERTY touch typer, and it seems I always will be. It would take too long to switch. Anyway, eventually I found myself in a club, unable to dance properly because my arms ached. So I decided that I had to find a specialist. I think I found the address of the physiotherapist charter through the RSI-UK website, and got the number of an RSI specialising physiotherapist off regent street, ‘physioworks’ through that. This has been very successful. I now have a set of stretches, which I pull regularly and which instantly relieve any aches. I now only take breaks every 30 minutes.
I’m told the long term solution is to correct my posture – that’s going well too. So for anyone with RSI, I recommend a conventional physiotherapist who is experienced with repetitive injuries, especially Anna at Physioworks. She didn’t ever tell me to type less, which is great. I’m not insured so the physiotherapy costs 35 quid per session (this is London, mind you). I should be able to claim it back off my employer though.
Answer 1: The website now lists two different organisations for physiotherapists – Chartered Society of Physiotherapists and Organisation of Chartered Physiotherapists in Private Practice (http://www.physiofirst.org.uk). Could you describe the stretches, or is it too complicated?
Answer 2: I rang up the physio people, and they were very helpful (once I got past the obligatory hassled receptionist). I could, but they are quite strong, and you have to do them right – including thinking about your whole posture. People with muscular pain should go to a physiotherapist.