I thought I had done a good job of managing my breaks. It turns out I wasn’t and I started to experience neck pain. The pain was aggravated by my bad phone habits and leaning the wrong way towards the PC. The longer I worked, the worse the problem. I needed to rethink my habits and ergonomics. (Includes short demo.)
I’ve also noticed there’s a strong correlation between pain and productivity. So, when the pain became too much, I decided to get a massage. Five minutes into the massage, the therapist asked, “Have you been working too long on a PC?” Guilty as charged.
My therapist reminded me that this pain could be prevented if I take a couple of precautionary steps such as routine breaks from the computer. The solution sounded simple enough but I found that if I was entrenched in writing or research, I wasn’t conscious of time. I needed some prodding to remind me to take stretching breaks.
At first, I used my Jawbone UP24 to alert me to inactivity (sitting on my arse). Although this proved useful, it still wasn’t enough so I decided to do a search for ergonomic software programs. I found several but settled on one called StretchWare created in cooperation with Bob Anderson. I was pleased as I already had his excellent stretching book
StretchWare is an unobtrusive program that sits in your system tray and alerts you to take a break and stretch. The program illustrates 4-6 stretches that take less than two minutes. The stretches can all be done at my desk and don’t require other equipment. In fact, the stretches are subtle enough that they wouldn’t draw attention from your office mates.
Aside from prompting me to take breaks, I appreciated the customization the program offered. For example, I can select which series of stretches to do and the order. Each series focuses on an area such as neck or shoulders. Moreover, I can choose how often to be reminded and how I should be reminded. I could choose a reminder based on elapsed minutes, specific times, or the number of keystrokes. (Note: if you installed any anti-spyware software, it may flag the key logger since it counts keyboard entries. The program doesn’t record the input so you can mark the program as safe.)
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- Ease of Use
After using this program for a short while, I would consider it a worthwhile investment. The program does come with a trial so you can test it out for yourself. The only item I wish it had was eye exercises.
Update: This program is now free, but unsupported. However, it still works on my systems. I've kept the Documentation/Support score at 4.
- URL: https://www.shelterpub.com/stretchware/
- Cost: Free
- Operating Systems: Microsoft Windows and Mac