Do you sit for long hours in front of your computer and perform repetitive activities? Then you should probably know about Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI), if you haven’t heard about it, don’t worry I have it all wrapped up here for you.

Repetitive Strain Injury affects not just computer users but for anyone who performs repetitive tasks like Knitting, assembly line and packing, sewing, brick laying, etc.

What Is Repetitive Strain Injury

As per the New Jersey Department of Health Senior Services, Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) are injuries of the musculoskeletal and nervous systems that may be caused by repetitive tasks, forceful exertions, vibrations, mechanical compression (pressing against hard surfaces), or sustained or awkward positions.

Repetitive Strain Injury Causes

Repetitive Strain Injury mainly occurs because of one’s nature of job. Since I am into Information Technology field I have listed some of the common causes related to it:

  • When you use keyboards for highly repetitive activities like data entry or typing job and don’t take proper breaks then it leads to this problem.
  • Improper sitting posture or sitting in the same posture for a very long time when you work on computers is yet another reason.
  • Performing high intensity activities that brings stress to your mind is also known for causing Repetitive Strain Injury.

What is WorkRave?

WorkRave is a free software that can help you to recover and prevent Repetitive Strain Injury. Let’s quickly see how this simple yet powerful software does that.

WorkRave Timer Window

  • Download (13.6 MB) and install WorkRave
  • During installation in Select Components wizard screen select Full Installation from the drop down.
  • Once WorkRave is installed it should be automatically placed in your task bar.
  • Right click on the WorkRave icon in your task bar and click Preferences.
  • In Preferences, under Timers you can see that there are 3 kinds of breaks available for you in WorkRave – Micro-break, Rest break and Daily limit.
  • Micro-break helps you to quickly take your fingers away from the keyboard and eyes from your monitor, the default time set is 3 minutes and break duration is 30 seconds.

WorkRave Micro Break Alert

  • Rest break are just like your coffee breaks or take-a-walk breaks, the default time set is 45 minutes and break duration is 10 minutes.
  • Daily limit is the total hours that you want to work on the computer; I split hours before and after lunch and set the daily limit accordingly. The default time set is 4 hours and there is no break duration.
  • You can post pone all the three breaks and all of them can be configured and tweaked to the setting that suits you well.
  • There are three modes available, Normal mode which is the default one which prompts you to take breaks and blocks you from using the system, Quiet mode monitors your usage but doesn’t inform you or block your system usage, Suspended mode can be activated when you ask someone else to work on your system for a short period of time, obviously you don’t want to annoy them right?

Repetitive Strain Injury Exercises

WorkRave is your Occupational Health Representative that can help you to prevent and recover from Repetitive Strain Injury.Though it may be difficult for you to get used to this awesome software it’s highly recommended.

WorkRave also provides statistics and simple exercises that can help you to see how you are doing with your breaks and how to improve them.

Right click on the WorkRave icon in your task bar and click Statistics to get statistical data on your daily computer usage and the breaks that you have taken.

WorkRave Statistics Data

Right click on the WorkRave icon in your task bar and click Exercises to see simple exercises that you can do in between your breaks.

Other Tools

5 Minute Break

  • 5 Minute Break is a simple utility that reminds you to take a break every 5 minutes.
  • Download the portable version and extract the contents in to a folder.
  • Run the 5 Minute Break.exe and you should see the icon on your taskbar.
  • Right click on the icon in your task bar and select when you would like to be reminded for a break.
  • Once the timer hits the break time that you have set, you will be presented with a full screen message along with the alarm sound.

5 minute break alarm

  • You can also customize the Alarm message by modifying the text in Alarm_en.html file and replace the alarm-default.mp3 to get a more pleasant reminder.

Install either of the above mentioned tools and prevent Repetitive Strain Injury today.

Guess it’s time for a break :-) let me know how you plan your breaks and if you find this useful, please share it with your friends and family.