Work habits

The most important concept in this context is "variation". You can always sit non-ergonomically, relax in an armchair while surfing the net etc. That's no problem, as long as you do not behave like that all the time. Stay active and do not work in one stiff posture for several hours: Our bodies need the variation!

A good working posture at a non-ergonomic workplace is better than having ergonomic equipment with a bad working posture. Ideally, of course, combine the ergonomic equipment with a correct working posture.

Working posturePosture

Work posture
We automatically hold our head in a way that our eyes can easily look forward horizontally.
If you have a slack posture, you automatically move your head forward, which results in your upper back and neck being bent (see left image).
Imagine a string which pulls your chest upwards (right image, green arrow). That will result in a straight neck and a natural spine.

The angle of the elbow joint should be about 100°. But again, as with many other recommendations: vary the execution.

Sit actively
Do not remain in the same position for several hours, move your upper body regularly. You can move your shoulders forward and backward in small circles, stretch your upper body in all directions and spread out your arms vertically above your head. Do that at least once every 30 minutes, the more - the better.
Keyboard-waist-distance
The gap between your upper body and the keyboard should be as small as possible, so that you don't have to stretch your arms forward and put strain on your shoulders. Make sure that your elbows are close to your body. A temporary working position could even be that you put the keyboard on your lap and use it there.
Don't bend your wrists while typing

Falsche Armhaltung

You should make sure that you don't bend your wrists while typing (ideally supported by an ergonomic keyboard).

Richtige Armhaltung
Use the mouse close to your body
If you are right-handed and use a keyboard with a numeric keypad (as most people do), then you should move your chair slightly to the right when using the mouse intensively. The smaller the distance between the mouse and your stomach, the less strain is put on your right arm and shoulder.

Technique

Warming-up
Each day your arms/fingers perform an outstanding amount of work. Rub your hands together at least before starting to work in the morning and after returning from lunch. Shake out your arms vigorously and move your shoulders forward and backward in small circles. In the acute pain phase, I found long-sleeved shirts helpful. When I wore t-shirts, I put arm sleeves on to keep my underarms warm.
Finger movements while typing
Real 10-finger touch typing may be efficient, but it's not necessarily ergonomic! The faster you move your fingers, the more you strain your finger tendons and underarm muscles. In severe RSI cases it may be advisable to move the whole arm up and down while typing.
The advantage of 10-finger touch typing - an equal distribution of the load on all fingers - is often destroyed by a rigid arm position and far splayed out fingers. So if you use all 10 fingers, then please move the entire forearm while typing (less splaying out of fingers) and reduce your overall speed. Complicated keyboard shortcuts should be executed with two hands.
Regardless of how many fingers you use, always apply only the minimum pressure necessary.
Keyboard shortcuts
Various keyboard shortcuts can make your life easier by reducing the number of mouse clicks or keystrokes for certain actions. Most programs show those combinations in the menu bar next to the corresponding entry. Many programs use the same combinations, so you will have internalized the basics after a short period. If the two keys don't lie next to each other, please use both hands.
"Normal" Shortcut Description
Right-click > Cut Ctrl + X Cuts the selected text / object
Right-click > Copy Ctrl + C Copies the selected text / object
Right-click > Paste Ctrl + V Inserts the selected text / object
Edit > Undo Ctrl + Z Undo the last action
Edit > Redo Ctrl + Y Reverse an undo command
Multiple keystrokes (arrow keys) Ctrl + Arrow key Moves the cursor before / behind a word
Multiple keystrokes (delete / backspace) Ctrl + Del / Backspace Deletes a word (Del = behind the mouse cursor, Backspace = before)
Scrolling with the mouse Page up Scrolls up one page
Scrolling with the mouse Page down Scrolls down one page
Arrow keys or clicking with the mouse Pos1 Document: Moves the cursor to the beginning of the current line
Website: Jumps to the top of the page
Arrow keys or clicking with the mouse End Document: Moves the cursor to the end of the current line
Website: Jumps to the bottom of the page
Drag the scrollbar with the mouse Ctrl + Pos1 Moves the cursor to the beginning of a document
Drag the scrollbar with the mouse Ctrl + End Moves the cursor to the end of a document
Highlight with the mouse Ctrl + Shift + Arrow key Highlights a word
Highlight with the mouse Shift + Pos1 Highlights everything from the cursor position to the beginning of the current line
Highlight with the mouse Shift + End Highlights everything from the cursor position to the end of the current line
Double-click on "My Computer" (this icon is usually only available on the desktop) Win + E Opens the Explorer
View > Refresh or - if available - by clicking on a special button in the menu bar F5 Refreshes the current view (Explorer, Internet Explorer, Firefox etc.)
Left-click on a program in the taskbar Alt + Tab Switches between open windows (you can hold Alt and press the Tab key several times)
Move your arm instead of your wrist
If the pain primarily affects your wrist, use your entire arm to move the mouse. The same can be applied to the keyboard: don't spread your fingers unnaturally to reach keys lying further out, but simply move your arm.
Switch mouse arm
Spread the stress of the mouse on both hands. All recommended ergonomic mice have a USB interface, so you can connect two mice simultaneously. As a right-hander I needed one week to be able to operate a mouse with my left hand.
Reduce double-click speed and/or single-click to open an item
Lower the strain of your index finger by reducing the double-click speed.
Windows: Start > Control Panel > Mouse > Double-click speed
For many actions you can also simply press the Enter key instead of one double-click (e.g. open a file).
Files in the Explorer and desktop shortcuts can be opened with a simple left-click instead of a double-click. To activate this option open the Explorer > Tools > Folder Options > General > Single-click to open an item (point to select).
Use auto click program
An auto click program enables clickless use of the computer. The software performs a mouse click after a certain time of inactivity (usually 0,5 - 1 second). It works with any other program.

Windows: RSI AutoClick (free)

Mac: DwellClick (paid)

Linux (GNOME): Dwell Click Setting

Breaks

Regular breaks /alternation
To counteract monotonous office work, it is advised to take many micro-breaks instead of just one longer break. This means that when you work intensively, you should shake out your hands every 5 minutes and get up at least every half an hour (go to the copier, make coffee, make phone calls while standing, stretch your arms ...). Even if you are determined to obey these break schedules, you will probably miss a lot of the breaks. Software which reminds you to take regular breaks is of great help.

Windows: Workrave (free)

Mac: AntiRSI (paid) / Stretch (paid)

Linux: Break Timer (free)

You should try to plan ahead your workday in a way that monotonous PC work is interrupted by other types of activities (e.g. client meetings, internal meetings, literature study).

A very common mistake is to rest the hand on the mouse, even when you actually don't use it. The same applies to the keyboard. As long as you don't use any of your input devices, place your hands comfortably in your lap. And avoid putting your bare forearms on cold surfaces.

Shake out your arms
Stand up, let your arms hang loosely beside your hips and shake them out.
Massage your arms
You can perform an arm massage on your own, which relaxes the muscles and helps prevent muscle stiffness.
Hot / cold water (contrast baths)
Immerse your forearms 10-15 seconds in hot, and after that in cold water. That can be repeated multiple times to stimulate blood circulation.

 

Don't try out all of the tips at the same time. Start with one recommendation and implement another each day. Please don't give up too early. Give yourself at least two weeks to become accustomed.

If you don't have RSI symptoms, don't be concerned after reading this website. Always remember: millions of people work on the PC every day and in most cases won't develop pain. As long as you follow a few basic rules (regular breaks etc.), there is a high chances that you will be spared from RSI.

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