Move, Please You've heard it before -- get up from your desk
occasionally to shake out the kinks -- but really, who's got the time?
You do, say the makers of ergonomic software, if you want to prevent
repetitive strain injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome. When the
software is installed on a computer, it generates reminders to stretch
at whatever interval the user selects.
Lead by Example A recent Google search of "ergonomic software"
drew more than 7 million hits. Experts say that when you're doing repetitive
motions such as typing, stretching exercises can help prevent injury.
Most programs urge computer users to stretch periodically and provide
written instructions as well as an on-screen animated figure who demonstrates
Break, made by a Costa Mesa, Calif., company
called Paratec, recently released a new version of its software, available
The product includes 36 stretches -- six times as many as it did in
1995, when it was first introduced -- and lets computer users control
the frequency, duration and sequence of stretches. These involve the
wrists, back, legs, neck and arms; it also offers breathing and eye
In the "Hands Overhead" stretch, for example, Stretch Break instructs
the computer user to "interlock fingers and extend over head. Lean to
one side and then another," as an animated man in a green polo shirt
Muscle Management Anything that gets sedentary computer users
moving is a good idea, said Lee Ann Rhodes, medical director of pain
management at Washington Hospital Center. Using ergonomic computer software
can help combat stiffness and decreased range of motion, Rhodes said.
"This is great because so many people have a workplace that is computer-based,"
Rhodes said. "All of this is quite important on a day-to-day basis to
try to prevent pain."
Paratec said its clients include many businesses that offer the software
for use by employees.
-- January W. Payne