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Ergonomic Stretches

At the 2005 O'Reilly Open Source Convention I had the opportunity to give an unscheduled Lightning Talk (thanks, Mark!). I chose to follow-up on a thread I started in comp.editors in 1992. I am interested in ergonomic keybindings for editors. Well, I knew I couldn't give a coherent pitch about that in 5 minutes, so I chose to spend a large portion of my time teaching the audience the ergonomic exercises that a friend taught me. (He's a computer geek who works for a chiropractor.) I have been doing these for about ten years. I get up from my keyboard about once an hour. I type a lot, but I haven't had problems with RSI. I think the exercises help. Even if they don't, they feel really good!

All the usual disclaimers apply. Consult your physician before beginning a program of strenuous exercise. I am not trained in the field of ergonomics. YMMV.

I do three stretches. I do each stretch three times before proceeding to the next one. I recommend standing up, as pictured. The first one has two parts. Follow along. Click on the thumbnails if you want to see larger images.

1.1. Let your arms fall to your sides in a neutral position. Stretch your fingers apart as far as you can. Hyperextend them. Hold it for 10 seconds. 1 Mississippi, 2 Mississippi...10 Mississippi. Oooh, that feels good.


1.2. Bend your fingers as pictured. Try to push your fingernails against your hands. Hold that for another 10 seconds. Relax, then repeat steps 1.1 and 1.2 two more times. That's 3 sets total.

2. Again with your arms at your sides in a neutral position, touch your index fingers to your thumbs and turn your palms so they face behind you, then turn them on around to the outside. Lock your elbows. Twist your palms out as far as you can, and hold it for 5 seconds. You should feel the stretch in your arms. Relax, and repeat. Relax, repeat a third time. That's 3 sets of 5 seconds each.

3. Extend your right arm out in front of you. Turn your palm so your fingers point toward the ground. With your left hand, gently pull the fingers of your right hand toward your body. Lock your right elbow. You should feel the stretch in your right arm. Hold it for 5 seconds. Now do the same with your left arm, using your right hand to pull the fingers of your left hand. Repeat until you have stretched each hand 3 times -- this sequence takes a total of 30 seconds.

Did I tell you to consult your physician before beginning a program of strenuous exercise? And that I am not trained in the field of ergonomics? Ok, I thought so. Just checking.

One other thing. If you're trying to read my t-shirt, here it is right-side up and upside-down.

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This document is http://purl.org/net/tbc/writing/ergo01/, Copyright © 2005 Tim Chambers <ergo01@timchambersusa.com> http://alum.mit.edu/www/tbc 1E4AF729D5CEFFD0.

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