Taking a Break with StretchWare

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. My bad phone habits and leaning the wrong way toward the PC aggravated the pain. The longer I worked, the worse the problem. I needed to rethink my habits and ergonomics. And that’s where the stretch software called StretchWare comes in.

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 I wasn’t conscious of time if I was entrenched in writing or research. I needed some prodding to remind me to take stretching breaks.

At first, I used my Fitbit to alert me to inactivity. Although this proved useful, it wasn’t enough, so I searched 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 . (FYI, I am an Amazon affiliate.)

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 the 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.

After using this program for a short while, I would consider it a worthwhile investment. The only item I wish it had was eye exercises.

Note: if you installed any anti-spyware software, it might flag the keylogger since it counts keyboard entries. The program doesn’t record the input, so you can mark the program as safe.

Update: This program is now free, but unsupported. However, it still works on my systems. I’ve kept the Documentation/Support score at 4.

Ease of Use5
Documentation / Support4
Overall Score4.7