The Hazards of IT

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  • While the physical issue related to IT are well covered, what is not covered is 'stress.' I believe IT is one of the most stressful occupations you can have. I realize the sales guys down the hall get stressed when they lose a sell; however, I've never seen them working at 12:00 midnight on a Sunday because a server crashed on a backup routine or trying to meet a deadline on a 'death march' project.

  • Concur... mouse movements at 2AM are much more harmful to the mind than the body... I'd really like to see an article about being in the expert in the hot seat all the time and how to deal with it rather than a simple regurgitation of what most people already know about keyboard height and other simple ergonomic faults.  If it doesn't feel good, change it...  We all know that. 

    --Jeff Moden

    RBAR is pronounced "ree-bar" and is a "Modenism" for Row-By-Agonizing-Row.
    First step towards the paradigm shift of writing Set Based code:
    ________Stop thinking about what you want to do to a ROW... think, instead, of what you want to do to a COLUMN.

    Change is inevitable... Change for the better is not.

    Helpful Links:
    How to post code problems
    How to Post Performance Problems
    Create a Tally Function (fnTally)

  • Another great health resource is Dr. Joseph Mercola. His articles often read like something from Dr. Phil and he does sell products on his web sites; however, nearly every blog post has a place for comments and discussion and there are sometimes dissenting opinions (that don't get deleted). There is a huge volume of information on the site and I always skim through the comments to get all sides of the story. Dr. Mercola also references the research that his opinions are based on in most cases; in the rare instances that research isn't noted I just try to use good judgment or talk to my doctor depending on the risk involved. A vast majority of the articles are about proper diet and nutrition and this is probably the most important factor in a person's health.

    [font="Tahoma"]Bryant E. Byrd, BSSE MCDBA MCAD[/font]
    Business Intelligence Administrator
    MSBI Administration Blog

  • I'd like to add another recommendation for dealing with repetitive stress if you're a programmer: the Dvorak keyboard layout. Around 2002 I noticed tingling in my wrists and hands and immediately thought about the specter of carpal tunnel syndrome. Since I was already using an ergonomic split keyboard and a gel mouse rest I had to think of something else.

    From reading on the Dvorak layout I discovered that it's designed to minimize stress on the hands. Like the most used letters in the English language are placed on the home row so your fingers don't have to travel as far compared to the Qwerty layout, vowels are all placed next to each other on the left side of the home row, even the position of letters used in common combinations are placed together. For instance, the t key is placed to the right of the h key so you can just roll your fingers to type the "th" combination. Anyway, it took me about a week to get proficient in it and a month to regain my Qwerty typing speed and the tingling in my hands has not come back. I actually used a typing games program to speed up the proficiency process. I highly recommend checking out this layout.

  • I learnt to play the piano at the age of 5 and one of the first things they teach is how to hold your hands and wrists.

    So far I have never had any problems with repetitive strain injury when using a computer keyboard and I put that down to using the same technique on the computer keyboard to the one I use on the piano keyboard.

    If you start to get joint pains relating to computer keyboards and it isn't posture related cut down on the tea/coffee intake. Try taking glucosamine supplements. They do take an affect.

    For 10 years I used to cycle to work whenever the weather permitted. I found that my stress levels were far lower while I was doing this even though my job at the time was far more stressful than it is today.

    I would seriously recommend taking up some for of excercise to combat stress, even if it is just walking. Don't go to one of those overpriced testosterone filled gyms, they are not stress free! The oestragen filled ones are even worse, particularly when trying to cope with a mid-life crisis

  • Here are two more common-sense suggestions:

    1. Don't forget to take a break every so often. It's easy to get so deep into a project, the adrenaline starts flowing, and you lose track of time. You don't even realize how tight your muscles are until you finally stop.

    2. Type gently. I knew somebody who would pound on the keyboard as if they were sitting at an old manual typewriter, and they eventually needed the carpal tunnel release surgery on both hands.

  • And enjoy yourself!!!

    Have fun, joke with friends and co-workers, smile, take "fun breaks", run to Dairy Queen/Starbucks/Jamba Juice, keep a football around and throw it with a friend for 5 minutes.

    On the nutrician side, I'd highly recommend the Body for Life diet. It works great.

    Most of all, remember there are more important things than computers.

  • How to resist stress and prevent a strok?

  • Everybody in my office thinks it strange that my monitor sits on top of and old access point enclosure.  It raises the monitor so that I look right at it rather than down at it.  I have two heriated disks in my neck now and the deflection angle on the MRI (yes I do know how to read an MRI) shows that it is from holding my head down for too many years.  You laptop drivers should take warning.

    My hands were messed up in a forklift mishap before I made computers my full time work.  I don't have the problems as mst because I had to learn to type differently.  I'm on an every 6 month schedule with the eye doctor for exams because I'm a computer dude that is diabetic.

    As for the blink rate:  There is a gal at church that is a psychologist.  She kept avoiding me.  OK, not for the usual reasons.  When somebody told me that she had her own psych practice it clicked.  It's my low blink rate.  I'm much below 15.  (Ah ha. she must think that I'm ...)  I cornered her and asked if she did a practicum in abnormal psychology.  When she said that she had I reassured her that I'm not psychotic  Low blink rate is a symptom.  Probably why our lot does so poorly in bars.  Low light and alchohol acentuate the low blink rate.  Makes one look weirder than usual.  We need a sign that says "Think Blink".

    ATBCharles Kincaid

  • Any one know Trochanteric support belt mentioned here ? Thx.

  • I never really thought about my low blink rate freaking people out, but I guess it might.

    I would like to add that people should not go to chiropractors for neck or back injuries. If your back or neck hurts see a Doctor of Orthopedics, there is a huge difference in education and in treatment. The AMA resisted chiropractors for a long time, because they do more harm than good. It was only because of politics and money that chiropractors were pulled into the AMA. I have heard too many people tell me that their chiropractor shifted their disk into place or realigned their spine. When you do things like that, it may make things temporarily feel better, but in the long run causes a lot more damage to the cartilage in your spine and it always shifts out again. All spinal movement must be supported by the appropriate muscle reinforcement.

    In fact most repetitive movement injury could be eliminated if people would just do some light weight lifting every other day. Our profession tends to be very sendintary, which means we have to focus a lot more on exercise than other active professions. I recommend doing light free hand curls (no machine) using a wrist brace at least twice a week. Doing 100 cruches 3 times a week, will help support your upper torso and assist your spine in holding up your body. I don't recommend doing back extensions, unless you are already fairly fit. Instead pick up a men's fitness magazine and do some of the free weight exercises in there. The important thing is to stay away from machines. Weight machines can be usefull if used correctly, however very few people in a gym, including the trainers know how to use the machines and without someone to watch your form you can seriously hurt yourself. Free weights can be dangerous as well, however if you keep the weight low and slowwwwly do the exercise, you will quickly see the improvement in your posture and reduce your chances of having a repetitve stress injury. Obviously lowering your body fat helps, but I know plenty of overweight, but active and healthy guys, so don't obsess about your weight. Just make sure the muscle under your fat is adequate to support your weight.

  • I've seen chiropractors for pinched nerves. Gave me short term relief, not much long term help. Acupuncture worked better for me.

    Try what you like, find something that works, keep your mind open.

    Being sedentary is a problem. It's good to take breaks, move around, do some things away from the computer often. Even if it's 10 minutes to walk around and stretch. And do some light exercise at a minimum. Even basic walking and stretching your arms/hands will help.

  • matt (5/27/2008)

    I would like to add that people should not go to chiropractors for neck or back injuries. If your back or neck hurts see a Doctor of Orthopedics, there is a huge difference in education and in treatment. The AMA resisted chiropractors for a long time, because they do more harm than good. It was only because of politics and money that chiropractors were pulled into the AMA.

    Strange, I've heard chiropractors were actually pretty good. I've never used one myself as I've been able to use yoga to deal with a back problem I had as a result of a car wreck 9 years ago.

    The AMA is as much a political body as medical one. I actually agree with your general message of becoming more physically active, but I don't really go along with promoting surgeries or the taking of pharmaceutical drugs, e.g. Orthopedics and the AMA. But to each their own.

  • You got me wrong about promoting surgery. In fact most good doctors will avoid surgery, unless it is either the only option or the patient refuses to perform the necessary therapy to help fix the problem. As I mentioned most people feel great after seeing a chiropractor, because they have shifted what was out of place, back to where it should be. The problem is, that they do not fix the problem that caused the bone to slip and repetitive shoving, cause permenant and unrepairable damage. They are basically medically sanctioned massage therapists, except a massage therapist won't move your skeletal system. Your skeletal system is supported by your muscles, so if you don't have the muscle to support your skeletal system... it falls apart. My only recommendation is, see a specialist first and do the muscle therapy they will recommend, before you see a chiropractor for a "quick fix". Going through therapy for a back injury is long and painful, but worth the time, since you only have one spine and spinal surgery rarely solves the problem permenantly. If you don't have any back problems now, ascribe to an exercise regimine that keeps your lower and upper back muscles fit.

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