June 29, 2005

RSI Worries and Other Things

Starting Friday my wrist started hurting and my fingers were feeling tingly. I've been warned a lot about the possibility of developing RSI (Repetitive Stress Injury). So this made me hyper worried about my chances. I stopped using the computer for a while. I only used my left hand using the computer over the weekend. Now I got a Wacom tablet on my computer at work and I've started to force myself to learn to use the pen instead of the mouse, which has been difficult. It's my fault really. I never really set up my desk to my comfort level. I have several friends with constant RSI problems, I have no desire to join them it doesn't sound fun.

My wrists have started to feel a lot better, I will continue to use the pen and switch back to the mouse occasionally. I've heard of this animator who worked at Pixar, he had really bad RSI. He said it forced him to think more about his work. It hurt his wrists so much to work on the computer that he would think about what he needed to do with his shot, he would think about it over and over again until he knew what controls he needed to use and how it needed to move so that when he did work with the computer he didn't have to work on it for very long. He said it really helped with his animation. This is good advice. I do dick around with my shots a little too much. Sometimes that's good, and I discover new things. Other times it's bad and I loose a lot of time. I should strive to be more like him.

The San Diego Comic Con is coming up. I'm looking forward to it. I alwayse try to go Wedsday-Friday, but I might be there the weekend as well. I missed last year because my daughter was due to be born that same weekend. This year should be a lot of fun!


Anonymous said...

oops .. I hope you don't develop RSI Ethan !! It does not sound fun indeed !

I didn't know using a wacom tablet could be a way to avoid it ? Hmm .. maybe I should try that .. But I really can't imagine being as fast with it !! Is it possible ? Is there life out there ? Anybody has any insight on the whole thing ?



Anonymous said...

Ethan -

I had the same problem when I first started at DW/PDI. My wrist hurt so much I even had to get a brace for it. For my first couple of months I was just typing in numbers in the spreadsheet to animate.

After reading about RSI and foot pedals and laser-beam head pointers, I decided to try out the trackball. Just got the Microsoft one from Circuit City (59$ or so) plugged it in and haven't had a problem since.

Much easier to flick that mouse from monitor to monitor with just a flick of the ball. Try it out!

Hope this helps you.

Rafi said...

this may sound weird, but I've been wearing a copper bracelet for the past 3 months and haven't experienced the slightest bit of RSI - I used to feel the tingles EVERY evening at the end of work.

any health store/pharmacist should have them in stock - and they're not expensive. apparently they replenish the loss of copper we all experience thru the day.

planning shots b4 heading 2 the pc is definately the way to go, I tend to view the computer as the last step. before that I plan out my scenes in thumbnails, try out variations of my key poses in sketches, exploring reversals etc. and by the time I'm thru all this, aswell as acting out bits, I've got a sense for the timing.

With that knowledge I pretty much know what to do in Maya and like you say, this thinking time helps SO MUCH with my animation.

Ethan said...

The track ball idea is a good one, I should try it out. I've been using the pen on a tablet mostly for variety, I switch back to the mouse a few times a day. The copper bracelet sounds like an interesting idea, I'm pretty sure the guys at work would make fun of me, but if it prevents more serious RSI then it's probably worth the ridicule. Does it turn your skin green at the spot that you wear it? Or is it brass that does that, no copper?

Anonymous said...


This will work. Start doing light weights. 5-20lb dumb bells or a curl bar. Do bicep curls, tricep exercises, wrist rolls (very light) etc...

Your wrists and hands will strengthen, you'll increase the blood flow to those areas. And you'll be able to work all day with out any problems. It's not an overnight solution but it works. Just exercise my friend. It's never not worked.


Anonymous said...

I had the same problem when I was working hard on my own stuff for a deadline. I looked into some hardware solutions and found this:


Haven't had a problem since. It rocks!

Rafi said...

hah! yeah I know what you mean, but if it works...

also, it doesn't have to be worn on the wrist - so long as copper is touching the skin. weird eh? never believed it until I tried it. Perhaps a copper pendent?

and yes it does turn your skin a little green from time to time.

The lightweights suggested above are ideal tho - I'm just never disciplined enuff to do it!

Ethan said...

All this advice is great. At this point I'll try anything to keep RSI at bay.