Feel Less Pain While Using Your Computer: Get a Virtual Ergonomic Coach

by Hayzell

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Since my injury, I’ve had a love-hate relationship with computers. They make my life easier, but they also cursed me with chronic pain. However, neither the pain nor computers are going to go away, and I need to learn to live with both.

Repetitive strain injury is an ever-present risk when using computers. To lessen your risk, it is important to take frequent breaks away from the keyboard, but it is very easy to forget to do so. To prevent further pain and learn to get in the habit of taking breaks, I tested MacBreakZ by Publicspace.net. (there is a version for PCs from the same maker called Ergonomix).

The software’s ergonomic coach teaches you the gentle art of breathing, stretching, and not going overboard with your keyboarding. This wonderful advice is exactly what I need (and probably would have saved me from a lifetime of burning arm pain, had I understood the risks of long hours at the keyboard.)

But advice you need is not always advice you want to hear. I admit that I initially found the software slightly annoying for reminding me I should take a break – just when I got into the flow of things. However, I realize this resentment stemmed from my old, dangerous style of repetitive work, so I trekked on and I found love!

The software tracks how intensely you are using the keyboard and mouse, and how long time you have been working on the computer. Every so often, when it’s time for a break, it gives you illustrated stretching exercises (from a total of 42) to reduce discomfort and prevent injuries. When it detects that your activity level inches into the danger zone (e.g., too long of a burst of continuous typing), it sounds a warning and encourages you to cool off for a few seconds with a micro break. MacBreakZ has an array of personal settings like selecting which exercises you can do and an “Adaptation Mode” that helps you gradually adapt to where you want to be.

I can’t help but be a cheerleader for this software (I’m not getting paid for this folks). If you’re suffering from any computer related pain (neck, wrist, elbow, repetitive strain injury, carpal tunnel, back pain, writer’s cramp, tendonitis, etc.) using this software or something like it is a must. If you are not in pain, MacBreakZ can help you stay that way. I wish I found this software earlier.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Kathy April 7, 2010 at 1:59 pm

Is there something similar for a Windows based PC?

Hayzell April 7, 2010 at 2:45 pm

Hi Kathy,
There is a PC version made by the same company. It’s called Ergonomix and you can find it at https://www.publicspace.net/ergonomix/.

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