Why Now?

RSI1 is not a new issue, why I am writing about this now?

  1. Larger smartphone screen sizes.
  2. People love to spend time with Nintendo Switch.
  3. Many people started to use iPad as their primary computer.
  4. Apple introduced low travel keyboards in their laptops.

We use iPhone a lot. Larger touch screens force your fingers to stretch and work more in unnatural ways.

The Switch allows you to take one of the best games ever made with you, but it’s heavy and Joy-Con controls are tiny, if you have moderate or large hands, your fingers are crippled.

Like laptops introduced new ergonomic challenges, iPad introduces even more challenges, when working for an extended period time, we use elevation docks, external screens. iPad can be used in many more new ways and it’s your job to take care of your body, maintaining natural wrist position and healthy posture.

Not everything that happened brings more risks to your hands, there’s positive changes, like ever reducing keyboard travel time. I have a theory that newer quieter keyboards are ergonomically safer.

New thinner MacBook Pro/Air keyboards are not reliable, Apple gets a lot of criticism and rightfully so. However, smaller travel means that your hands have to do less work to press each key. RSI caused by micro injuries in hand muscles. More travel means more force. Each individual press is harmless, but when repeating it thousands times, it can accumulate to a big amount of force which your hands have to deal with. Loud typists are at greater risk, and new keyboard are all about quieter typing.

Solutions.

  1. Choose a smartphone with a small screen.
  2. Use large Pro Controller, give your Switch support while playing, reduce wrist strain.
  3. Use external keyboard and stands when working on iPad.
  4. Consider keyboards with lower travel time.

Also there’s some simple rules.

  • Type as light and quite as you can.
  • Move and shift your entire hands and shoulders.
  • Don’t rest your wrists while typing.
  • Don’t stretch your finger in unnatural positions while typing.
  • Use stronger fingers more, press larger keys with multiple fingers to reduce required force.
  • Position your keyboard flat.
  • Give your hands and body regular breaks.

Wrapping Up.

The most desired scenario is when you treat your hands with respect and don’t injure yourself in a first place. That’s the easier and healthier option. I am fortunate to have heathy hands so far, however I had experienced warning signs and I have not ignored them since. I am careful about my hands, particularly, how do I type and play. You should be to. There’s many kinds of RSI, but the one I am concerned the most is the one which injures you wrists to a point that you can’t type without a pain or can’t type and play any more at all. The only cure is time and full recovery is not guaranteed.

We don’t speak about RSI enough. It’s a life injury and it’s happening around us. Normally, only people who already experienced RSI taking measures and talking about it,2 while what everyone in software industry should do more, is to take preventing measures. I am calling for more RSI awareness among people in software.

Further Reading.

I recommend this book (Amazon), which is only available in print. Used price is not bad at all. If you know me in person, I will happily let you borrow it.

  1. Repetitive Strain Injury 

  2. I’ve heard this from John Siracusa and some of Relay.fm members.