How to Avoid RSI as a Writer

How do you avoid RSI as a writer?  If you’re an idiot like me, you don’t.  Since I got back from the London Book Fair I’ve been suffering from severe cramp and pains in my fingers and wrist.  Dirty jokes aside (and there have been many from friends and family), I realised typing on a keyboard for long periods of time isn’t just inadvisable; it’s stupid.

I’ve given myself a repetitive strain injury.

Wrist guard

Poor Wrist Action…I’ve heard all the jokes

Ow, Ow and double Ow!

I have a telephone appointment with a physiotherapist in less than 30 minutes.  This is good as I can barely type with my right hand without shooting pains going up and down my arm.  Fortunately help is at hand (bad pun, sorry!) in the form of my friend Sanjay Shelat, a consultation with the NHS Choices website, and a kindly threatening recommendation from my partner; stop using my hand for a bit.  

Whilst this is all good advice and I am trying to take it, I began wondering how many other people suffer from this type of injury.  The answer is over 60% of the working population, and that goes up if you exclude everybody except office workers.   I knew typing repetitively at a keyboard was bad for you, but like most people I figured ‘I’m not a moron, how bad can it be?’ 

Pretty bad was the answer.

How do you avoid RSI in an office?

You probably already know much of this advice (and ignored it like I did).  However as I am in quite a bit of pain right now, I think it’s worth sharing some tips and tricks.   

Correct your sitting posture

I slouch.  I bet you do too sometimes.  You need a straight back when you’re working.  Your screen needs to be at roughly eye-height.  I bought myself an ergonomic chair from Argos to help me with this (£60 well spent – not the best but better than a normal chair).  I also got a stand for my laptop screen.  £10…bargain!

New Mouse

Ergonomic Mouse

Looks…odd. But it helps.

Looks weird, but stops your wrist from straining.  It feels quite natural, which I suppose is the point.

New Keyboard

Mine’s currently in the post, but it should be with me this weekend!  Basically an ergonomic keyboard helps your hands maintain a straight natural position when you’re typing. 

Eat vegetables and exercise

The two things on this list I actually do!

Take regular breaks

Epic fail here.

Voice Recognition Software

I’m looking into this at the moment.  Apparently there are some great programs about that are really useful.

Personally I’m sceptical, but I’m willing to give anything a shot at this point.

When coming back from a holiday, don’t just jump straight in

I didn’t know this one myself, but if you relax for a few weeks and then dive right back in to typing 1,000 words an hour, you will hurt yourself.  Who knew?

Finally…Rest for Success

I find this very hard to do, almost impossible in fact.  It’s taken a pretty serious injury to get me to stop typing. 

So don’t make my mistake and…ow.  Okay I really have to stop now.

Time to relax and watch an informative video…enjoy!

Patrick Stewart sketch

What has the ECHR ever done for us

Why Patrick Stewart should be PM


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