What does your RSI-helping setup look like?


(Walter Schultz) #1

I have some slight RSI and, as a programmer, I know it’s important to keep my hands healthy, so I was thrilled to get my own Keyboardio.
But after two months of using it, my RSI had gotten worse. I’ve since switched back to my laptop keyboard and RSI pain has subsided.

I feel like I must be doing something wrong, since so many people have talked about the keyboardio helping their RSI.
If you have RSI and Keyboardio has helped you, what does your setup look like?
Maybe I can learn a good setup for myself.

I tried a couple different configurations that were similar:

(Pais) #2

How is your RSI showing itself? Where are the pains and which motions exacerbate the pain?

I don’t have the keyboard yet but I’m a long time user of split and tented keyboards which in my experience greatly reduces RSI.


(Walter Schultz) #3

I had aching pains in my both hands and forearms that would slowly go away after I stopped typing.
Which is odd, because I generally get RSI in my right wrist, which I believe is caused by using my mouse.

(Pais) #4

I normally use an upright mouse.
I can not recommend this enough

When you say ‘in both my hands’, which part of your hands? Forearms also sounds weird, perhaps you could share a picture with your hand position.


(Walter Schultz) #5

I have that exact mouse! It helps a lot, but not perfectly.
I’ll see if I can get a picture of my keyboardio setup on my lunch break.

Added pictures

(Gergely Nagy) #6

Everybody’s case will be different, but as a data point, what helped for me was high tenting (~45-50 degrees), with a trackball in the middle. This is tough to accomplish, because the high tenting will require higher stands, and then you have to lift your monitors too, possibly your chair aswell. I solved this by using a standing desk, and got the chair out of the picture - one variable less! Additionally, I’ve been using OneShot modifiers and layers, to reduce chording - chording was one of the things that made my hands hurt. I also tried to move anything important off of my pinkies, and move useful stuff towards my thumbs.

I’d snap a picture of the setup, but… my desk is so full of random crap that I can’t share that. :frowning:

(Walter Schultz) #7

Where do you rest your hands with a high tenting like that?

(Gergely Nagy) #8

I let my hands down to hang beside my body. Or place it on my desk whenever I’m not typing. While typing, they float. (I usually type in bursts, fwiw.)

(James Cash) #9

Here’s my setup. For me, the thing that made a big difference is putting the keyboard low enough that my forearm is at a greater than 90 degree angle.

I did have some increased discomfort in for the first few days actually, which I think was because my right hand had been kind of contorted on my old keyboard, so switching to the Model 01 entailed some adjustment of my arm & hand.

(tiltowaitt) #10

Personally, I use the following setup:

  • Standing desk
  • Laptop on tall stand to place the top of the screen at eye level
  • Desk height is such that my elbows are bent at a 90-degree angle while typing
  • Keyboard halves are placed apart such that my forearms are parallel both with each other and the ground
  • Keyboard halves are tented at ~85 degrees
  • Keyboard halves are given neutral pitch so my wrists are neutral while typing.

If I could improve my setup, I’d like to have my keyboard halves positioned so I don’t have to raise/bend my arms at all. What I’m envisioning is a pair of stands that I “step into”, with the halves pointed down and raised to hand height.

(Tim Holt) #11

If I could improve my setup, I’d like to have my keyboard halves positioned so I don’t have to raise/bend my arms at all. What I’m envisioning is a pair of stands that I “step into”, with the halves pointed down and raised to hand height.

I saw someone on YouTube with a setup like that for their ergodox. They just made it out of 2×4’s. Let me see if I can find it.

Here it is.


I stand here so my arms are in neutral position, got the idea from @blakej.

This is using the arkon stands also thanks to @blakej (Custom Mounts - What are your ideas?). Got the arkon stands from http://www.arkon.com/product/RM0861420-camera-clamp-mount.html

The stands are adjustable so sometimes I switch to sitting.

OneShot + Dvorak is helpful for me.

(depaula) #13

When I switch to a new setup, I use wrist braces for a while, to feel how I might be unknowingly bending or stretching incorrectly. My first couple weeks with the Keyboardio I thought splitting the keyboard really far apart would be great, but progressively put them closer and closer until it got back to a “normal” split distance.

The key is understanding your wrists. Personally, I need to keep mine in a neutral position, and the worst thing I can do is bend them down, and I need to rest my wrists between typing bursts either with armrests or with the keyboard pushed in from the edge of the table 8-10 inches. (The pic shows the keyboard closer to the edge, but notice the room in front of the keyboard so I can push it in some.

I wrote the below to a coworker starting to experience RSI back in 2009. Now I’m much better and forget that I have a problem for months at a time.

Heavy use of Emacs and control keys that makes me bend fingers into weird positions make it worse. Writing and editing prose is worse than programming as it requires me to do more typing–things got really bad when I was writing my dissertation all day seven days a week. Using the mouse for long periods of time without breaks is bad. I’ve had to give up FPS games on the PC because there are no breaks. Bending my wrists down from neutral for long periods of time is worst.

From 2002 to 2009 I managed my injury with the following.

  1. Lots and lots of Advil. Taking it as a preventative before I feel the pain is much better than taking it when I feel the pain as the inflammation is already there and then it takes longer to recover.

  2. Learned the Dvorak layout. I’m a true touch-typist now and my fingers don’t work as much.

  3. Became ambidextrous with my mouse. I’ve got two mouse-pads and the mouse switches between them throughout the day. I switch it over if my dominant hand starts to ache.

  4. Wear the full-size RSI wrist braces at night. I noticed that I often rest my hands on my body in my sleep so the wrists bent downwards and would go numb. Sleep is the best time for healing and I was sabotaging my time to heal, and maybe even making things worse.

  5. Always wear braces when typing or mousing. One doc pointed me at WrisTimer https://www.brownmed.com/product/imak-rsi/wristimer/ which work well, look cool, and doesn’t make me look like a cripple in the office like the standard ones do.

  6. Use a typing-break timer and do stretches, get water, whatever, when it goes off. Don’t get in the habit of cheating.

  7. Get an ergo keyboard.

  8. Adjust the keyboard, monitor and desk so my wrist and arms are comfortable. The braces were also useful to let me know when your posture or finger reaches were too extreme. I think my natural habits are better now.

  9. Do not use a laptop touchpad, or the laptop keyboard for more than an hour or so at a time. Get an external mouse and an external keyboard for any extended work. If I feel pinching, or itching, or soreness I’m asking for trouble if I push through it.

  10. A side effect of changing jobs is that I don’t use Emacs much, and the new IDE (Visual Studio) lets me use the mouse more. I think using fewer hot-key combos helped me. I’ve been kind of afraid of learning too many hot keys as switching between mouse and keyboard seems to strike a good balance.

(Chris Done) #14

I have compressed ulnar nerve issues in my right arm (causing my pinky and ring finger to be inflamed, weak, hot/cold sensations, spasms sometimes, etc.), so the best typing position for me is with my arms straight.

One nice advantage of having it strapped to your body is that you can bend your knees sometimes and turn/step around a bit while you’re typing. You aren’t pinned to your desk as much.

I use a climbing harness, which is the red straps:

I connect it to the keyboard with a simple strap in the centre blank area of the Kinesis Advantage, allowing my arms to rest comfortably while typing or by my side while thinking and reading.

I also have attached a Logitech trackball mouse by my side so that I can mouse comfortably too; with very little movement to use it.

My screen is simply my laptop on a box on some drawers. I tend to move around the house when I work, but this is my favourite position for typing and programming.

I’ll tend to sit down on the sofa or bed if I’m reading something and not doing much typing.

Setup time is about 20 seconds. You just have to lift the harness on and strap it on at a comfortable position.

(Michael Sloan) #15

I’ve been messing with some really atypical computing setups since last summer. One of my favorite setups is what I like to call “tree based computing” mostly because of the ambiguity with the tree data structure. My main focus here was on other varieties of positive health impacts than RSI prevention / helping, but this keyboarding approach has helped out my coworker Chris who posted above! So, I’m stoked that the strap-your-keyboard-to-your-belt has alternative benefits beyond enabling a portable outdoor setup.

Here’s what my strap-keyboard-io-to-belt setup looks like, combined with strap-laptop-to-tree. Photo taken about a month ago IIRC:

And a pic taken by a passerby back in October 2017:

Why the url at the bottom to a programming blog that hasn’t been updated in 6 years? Well, I’m working on a new blog and some blog posts about the topic of healthy / ergonomic computing. They’re not ready yet, but hopefully soon will replace my old blog at mgsloan.com . So that’s there incase these get copied around, since I think this is a pretty wild setup! I tend to feel pretty darn rad after working outside all day, and it’s done wonders for my lower back pain.

(Chris Done) #16

I got the strap-keyboard-to-belt idea directly inspired by Michael Sloan above!

(Michael Sloan) #17

A more recent one that’s been fun is Keyboard io + wire-around-laptop-hinges + releaseable zip ties + strap + hammock:

Main downside of this setup is you tend to get a bit lazy after a while. Good for some very relaxed computing, though.

(Noseglasses) #18

Cool! I’ve been thinking for quite a while how to combine my two favorite activities, programming and rock climbing. Seems like you guys found a solution :smile:


Hey @Infininte, I use a similar setup to you at work, with the halves spaced shoulder-width apart. But the columns of my Model 01 are vertical instead of angling toward each other—I wonder if your RSI is being triggered by a bend in the wrists?

(Dianna Dearborn) #20

Would something like these ‘elbow rests’ (Amazon) help you keep your hands in the right place to use your Keyboardio more comfortably?

I’ve used these effectively mostly when my rotator cuff tendinitis sets end and I can’t support my arms without pain.

Now that I remember them, think I will break the pair out for when I’m sitting down.

Since you mentioned it, I should think more about tenting my keyboards.