Two angles on Repetitive Strain Injury

post by NancyLebovitz · 2013-08-26T15:40:52.755Z · score: 1 (14 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 27 comments

Discussion of buckling-spring keyboards, which give accurate tactile feedback. You can get them for about $70, and a lot of people swear by them.

Here's my RSI story: Some years ago, I was getting a lot of pain in my right elbow, presumably as + result of excessive Blockout (3D tetris), counted crosstitch, and being polite for no good reason to someone I was very angry at when I was under stress. Rest was not helping. I remember needing to sign a bunch of checks, and using my right hand for the signatures and my left for the account numbers, and it was still hard on my elbow.

The Way of Energy is an excellent introduction to Taoist standing meditation. I worked up to being able to do twenty minutes of just plain standing and twenty minutes of holding a balloon (arms circled at a little below shoulder level) a day. After mere weeks, my elbow problem went away and never came back. Subjectively, I hit a point in meditation where it became obvious to me that I was using more effort to stand than I needed to, and I could just let go of the excess tension.

27 comments

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comment by buybuydandavis · 2013-08-26T18:19:31.947Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

I hit a point in meditation where it became obvious to me that I was using more effort to stand than I needed to, and I could just let go of the tension.

This is one of the general principles of movement theorists - that our muscles are habitually clenched with unnecessary strain which saps our energy and makes sensing movement precisely, and thereby executing movement precisely, difficult. They generally wouldn't say just to let go - you want your muscles active in sensing what you're doing, though letting go is good for being able to sense the difference between being clenched and being relaxed, and so to notice when you are in a clenched state.

If you're interested in neuromuscular control theory, I recommend Moshe Feldenkrais, Thomas Hanna, Lulu Sweigart, and Mable Todd.

comment by ChristianKl · 2014-06-22T10:58:15.611Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

If you're interested in neuromuscular control theory, I recommend Moshe Feldenkrais, Thomas Hanna, Lulu Sweigart, and Mable Todd.

I'm at the moment reading Hanna and Feldenkrais. With both I note that they did their work decades ago. Is there something more recent in that domain that you would recommend to read as well?

comment by buybuydandavis · 2014-06-22T21:15:50.615Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I did most of my reading on this stuff about a decade ago.

One guy I didn't mention was Frank Pierce Jones, who did experimental studies on the Alexander Technique.

Looks like there has actually been a fair amount of study of the Alexander Technique in the last 15 years. See La Wik, and

http://www.amsatonline.org/research

Like I said, I haven't read this stuff in a while, so please update us on what you find.

comment by thebigbadviolist · 2015-03-06T04:54:29.781Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The Alexander Technique is incredible valuable in working with RSI; I'm a violinist & AT teacher in NYC and have seen people who couldn't turn a page in a book or press an elevator button without pain learn how rid themselves of RSI by improving their "use" as Mr. Alexander called it.

Here's a little essay that explains some of the ideas behind the work; but it must be learned by hands on experiences to be truly understood.

http://connectingupthedots.com/2014/03/20/understanding-the-primary-directions-which-way-is-up/

comment by ChristianKl · 2015-03-06T12:22:39.284Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The question is whether there's good recent literature on the topic. Is there more recent writing than Alexander's that's good?

comment by Lumifer · 2014-06-23T18:26:30.696Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

This is one of the general principles of movement theorists - that our muscles are habitually clenched with unnecessary strain which saps our energy and makes sensing movement precisely, and thereby executing movement precisely, difficult.

This is precisely what slow Tai Chi forms are designed to deal with.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2013-08-26T20:48:15.216Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I've edited the post to say "excess tension". What seemed remarkable was that I had a moment of being able to tell clearly what I needed to stop doing.

comment by buybuydandavis · 2013-08-26T21:22:38.029Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

That's interesting. The usual Feldenkrais take is not knowing what you need to do, but sensing what you are doing, and being aware of alternatives to it.

In your meditation, what are you focusing your awareness on?

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2013-08-27T01:02:52.850Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

It's been a while since I've done standing meditation, but I was doing it rong at the time. I didn't have the focus to really let my mind calm or to work on alignment. Instead, I'd put up with it for a while, and then count breaths until the timer dinged. When I say I counted breaths, I don't mean I did the classic boring up to four back to one up to four. I'd just count in a straight sequence.

Or I'd do projects like paying attention to corresponding fingers and toes, but not with the sort of dedication where the projects would be likely to make any difference-- they were an effort to avoid boredom.

Standing meditation worked for me anyway.

My initial explanation was that standing meditation gave me enough time to realize that I was being stupid about how I was standing, but I've come to the conclusion that I was not giving enough attention to possible causes for the moment of inspiration, so I now think there might be something specifically valuable about the stances.

comment by buybuydandavis · 2013-08-29T02:32:46.684Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Or I'd do projects like paying attention to corresponding fingers and toes, but not with the sort of dedication where the projects would be likely to make any difference-- they were an effort to avoid boredom.

Actually, "just paying attention" is believed to be able to make a large and lasting difference. I can immediately adjust my posture, in various ways, by focusing on different points on my body. Without voluntary contraction of muscles, the muscles adjust. In fact, adjust much better than if I try to "do it" voluntarily.

comment by Eliezer Yudkowsky (Eliezer_Yudkowsky) · 2013-08-26T23:22:22.050Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

This should probably be in the Open Thread.

comment by timtyler · 2013-08-26T23:56:42.332Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I made my own keyboard some years back out of buckling-spring leaf microswitches...

comment by topynate · 2013-08-26T21:12:13.881Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Was I alone in expecting something on recursive self improvement?

comment by aelephant · 2013-08-27T01:36:34.212Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I was thinking "rapid sequence intubation".

I've noticed that in published works, the 1st instance of a term is usually spelled out / clarified. So in the title, you could use "repetitive strain injury (RSI)" & then use RSI for every instance after that.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2013-08-27T03:14:41.318Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I've corrected it. Thanks.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2013-08-26T22:01:08.546Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I thought the title might be misread as being about the geometry of workspace ergonomics.

comment by TsviBT · 2013-08-26T21:43:50.998Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Nay.

comment by Kaj_Sotala · 2013-08-26T21:25:52.578Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

You weren't.

comment by Oscar_Cunningham · 2013-08-26T17:13:11.139Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I thought this was spam until I saw who wrote it.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-08-26T22:30:32.535Z · score: -5 (9 votes) · LW · GW

It isn't spam?

comment by John_Maxwell (John_Maxwell_IV) · 2013-08-26T22:12:26.585Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I recommend this ebook for RSI and aches and pains more generally. Saved my career.

comment by GuySrinivasan · 2013-08-30T17:00:15.958Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Worth it, anecdotally. Reading it caused me to try lots of new massage things (itself worthwhile, unclear the book was necessary but it was sufficient). So far 2 of the new things that were directly suggested by the book have been extremely good. One gave a day's worth of significant right arm pain relief, now repeating it each day. If it's placebo then at least we know the pain is amenable to placebic attacks. :) The other... is hard to describe but let's just say people pay a lot more than $20 and some time to get the kind of feeling she did. Recommended to anyone who massages anyone else even kinda regularly. Here's a free section with some good things to try.

comment by John_Maxwell (John_Maxwell_IV) · 2013-08-31T06:32:10.838Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Cool.

One gave a day's worth of significant right arm pain relief, now repeating it each day.

A mental model I've found useful: think of your trigger point as a bank balance that's in a deficit state. If you only treat it when it's painful, and only enough so that it stops being painful, then it may remain in a deficit state indefinitely. If you continue treating it even after it seems better, and you cut down on or stop activities that seem to make it worse for a good while, then you have a chance of eliminating it entirely (or at least bringing it to a much nicer equilibrium state).

It may be good to periodically test activities out on your trigger points to see if you're making progress though. Another thing about trigger point is they really can be hard to identify, so in addition to finding good habitual massage patterns, you also want to be searching for novel ways to massage under, around, etc. your muscles and in nooks and crannies near your joints and whatnot to see what you discover. You might also find it interesting to massage a muscle while it's not being flexed and someone else slowly moves it through its range of motion.

I have a lot to say about trigger points if people want to read it.

comment by Luke_A_Somers · 2013-08-26T20:42:48.879Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I haven't had the slightest trouble with carpal tunnel or RSI since I switched to laptops. Before then, it was always hovering around.

I can see a couple possible explanations for this (hardly exhaustive, obviously)

1) greater variety in how I am oriented with the device

2) very low action on the keys. I could tap them very lightly, and it'd take.

3) changes in my life circumstances - I'd just gotten married and started grad school, so maybe that relaxed me more. On the other hand, if that were it you'd think having a child would reverse the effect.

I'm not terribly keen on spending 40 minutes standing and meditating every day.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2013-08-26T20:46:24.502Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

If you've got a solution (and it sounds like you do), then there's no need to try either of the things I recommend.

comment by kalium · 2013-08-26T22:26:39.128Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

By contrast, I've found that laptops make my RSI much worse. In particular, laptops usually run pretty warm and typing on a warm or hot keyboard gets painful very quickly. My results are controlled in that using an external Thinkpad keyboard is far more comfortable than using the identical built-in keyboard on my Thinkpad.

comment by Luke_A_Somers · 2013-08-27T16:01:03.752Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Interesting. The laptops I've used all get hot at the bottom left rear corner, near the power supply, not where my hands touch them.