Sitting at a computer may be the hazardous occupation of the new millennium. The repetitive actions that computer use requires, done in ways that put harmful stress on the user's body, lead to a variety of injuries and painful conditions. These conditions are often referred to as repetitive stress injuries (RSI). The incidence of RSI in the workplace is rising, and the monetary and human costs of computer-induced injury and disability are staggering.
Factors such as workplace and equipment design contribute to this toll, and ergonomic improvements can certainly reduce it. Ergonomic improvements alone, however, can not solve the problem. They do not address the role that the computer user plays in producing her or his own injuries, through excessive effort and poor body organization. And they do nothing to address the underlying cause of this excessive effort and poor body organization -- a lack of self-awareness which makes efficient functioning difficult if not impossible.
Low-Stress Computing is a somatic education program which uses greater self-awareness and improved body organization to reduce the stresses which lead to RSI. The program is currently under development and will eventually include experiential movement lessons, guided self-exploration, and various forms of explanatory material.
Low-Stress Computing, Part 1: Reducing Behavioral Stress, is now available. The Introduction (Chapter 1) is available in pdf format as a free download. This chapter lays out the basic conceptual framework on which Low-Stress Computing is based and outlines the content of the remainder of the book.
Low-Stress Computing $11.95
Introduction to Low-Stress Computing (pdf, free).
This 86 page manual covers the basic concepts on which Low-Stress Computing is based. Topics include:
- The difference between environmental stress (what the external world does to you) and behavioral stress (what you do to yourself).
- Three major sources of behavioral stress -- excessive effort, poor body organization, and lack of self-awareness.
- The "work hard fallacy" and repressed feelings as causes of excessive effort. Cocontraction and the biomechanics underlying the effort-injury connection. Body organization as a component of efficient movement. Self-awareness and the need to know what you're doing in order to move well. Social conditioning against self-awareness.
- What you can do to reduce behavioral stress -- the action/awareness cycle and its role in the process of somatic exploration. Tools for somatic exploration, including awareness practice, integration practice, sources of guidance, and conceptual shift.
This book was intended as the first part of a larger project that I never brought to completion. Nonetheless, I believe it stands on its own as a valuable self-contained exploration of the nature of Repetitive Stress Injury and the role of awareness in efficient and pain-free body use.