Tuesday, November 14, 2006

wherein I learn about my twisted back

Today I worked for 12 hours and then ended the day with a massage.

By comparison, the Egyptian masseur from two weeks ago was crap. His massage technique was the same as how I would do it, only more forceful. My Google masseur tonight had fancy professional methods, pressing out the stress in a way that said "non-amateur".

When he got to my right shoulder, it became much more painful. "This must be your mouse hand," he said. "Years of stretching forward to use the mouse has caused this muscle to deform. Your rib is sticking out in the back, and your shoulder is contorted forward." He pressed his thumb just below my collarbone, and I yelped. "Feel this knot here?"

"Are you sure you're not just picking a spot and poking me in it?" I asked hopefully, between gasps of breath.

He laughed and continued kneading my shoulder with his knuckle. "You should learn to use the mouse with your left hand, so that you can switch between the two."

"Won't that make me deformed on both sides instead of just one?" I said.

"No, the damage is exponential based on use."

Alas, gentle readers and mouse-users, you probably have the deformity too.


ArC said...

Actually, inspired by other wiser 'Techers since 1994, I use the mouse as little as possible, preferring to use keyboard shortcuts instead. (This new wave of web-based apps, esp 'pretty' ones that don't respect the Tab key, certainly don't help, though.) Then I got a keyboard shelf and ergonomic chair and ergonomic keyboard. And I still have very mild RSI symptoms.

Next up: better keyboard shelf, better chair, LCD monitor and monitor arm. And maybe one day, that foot-trackball I've always wanted.

Anonymous said...

It sounds like his pickup lines were NOWHERE near as slick as the Egyptian masseur's.

Anonymous said...

We need mouse pointers that connect to our eyes so it goes where ever we look. Hmmm, might be annoying when reading a doc and the pointer follows along though.

Anonymous said...

Surely you've had a real (non-skeezy) professional massage before? Or was this one some sort of super-masseur?

Anyway, he's wrong, the damage isn't exponential, it's simply cumulative (though there is an amplifying effect when you don't rest: injured parts are more susceptible to further injury). You're right that alternating hands will simply delay the inevitable and leave you with two messed-up arms.

What he is right about is that RSI damage accumulates over a long period of time throughout the upper body; by the time you suffer pain you're already far gone. And then people put on a wrist brace or something useless like that, which does absolutely nothing for all that messed-up shoulder tissue.

Have you had an ergo eval? If not, schedule one. Consider basic things like relocating the mouse, using a keyboard-mounted trackpad, or (as a.r.c. said) learning to mouse less.

Or, you know, just ignore it, because it's convenient and doesn't seem important, until one day you can't open a doorknob without howling in pain. That's a popular option as well.

Ignacio Pinillos said...

I just changed my mouse to the left side to try... and find myself reaching it over the keyboard with the right hand to use it... I guess that was I will deform other muscles... :P

I guess the massage relaxes you more because you are home... thats the only way we really relax.

Best Regards,

Ignacio from Peru
Google fan and programmer

KE Liew said...

If ya don't wanna switch hands, just stretch once a while, every 30mins will do. Or loosening parts of your body once a while.

Doctor's advice, great stuff. :)

ishkabubba said...

there is a good article by meg *megnut* hourihan about *mousing goofy*. ;-)

omar said...

the single best thing i ever did for my rsi problems was to stop using a mouse altogether. i now swear by the ibm thinkpad keyboard (which you can buy as an external keyboard). i use nothing else, don't ever use a mouse, and my hands, arms, shoulders, neck, are all happier for it.

of course, many breaks is also a requirement, or you're just going to stress your body to the breaking point.

Charles said...

One word: EMACS