Programmer? Back Pain? I might have a solution.

Posted on:April 10 2013

If you are a programmer, or in general: Doing 100% of your work in front of a computer screen, typing, then it's probable that you will suffer back pain sooner or later. The human body simply wasn't engineered to stay in this specific position for long times, and so it will start complaining some day. Not sure how many blog posts and tweets of fellow programmers with similar problems I came across already, but they were quite a lot. Last year, finally after about 15 years of fulltime programming, I also started suffering this problem, so I thought about trying out some counter measures. And I think I found the perfect one for me:

No, I don't mean playing Crysis 3. I'm talking about Archery. Shooting bows. I'm not sure what the specific medical background is why it helps, and if it actually is a good way to fight back pain by practicing archery, but it helped me for sure. And not only that: It is an ideal supplement for programming: Sit for 4 hours in front of the computer, go shoot some arrows for half an hour, and return back to programming for an additional 4 hours. I'm much more productive this way now: Concentrating the second 4 hours feels much more easier after hitting the target a few dozen times with a bow.
And additionally, it is fun:

What you see above is the target I am using, I built if myself from a few hard wall isolation bricks. My shooting skill has improved a lot recently, and I think I need to build myself a new target soon :) It is quite entertaining shooting arrows once you've mastered it, so you probably have to accept this wearout. :)
Should you consider trying this, you can choose today from a wide range of bows and even types of them. That Crysis 3 style compound bow is probably a bit expensive, but you can get neat recurve bows at about 100 euros already. Totally worth the price if you suffer pack pain.


Also, bows don't fall under many weapon laws (DE:, and I couldn't even find something for US.
2013-04-10 17:00:00

doing indian(as in country india) style pushups, where you curve your body like snake, pulling head between arms, taking breaks from long sitting, running in morning also helps, besides strengthning the body and stomach.
kinjal kishor
2013-04-10 17:06:00

Archery, when done with good form, is a natural workout for the scapular retractor, lats, trapezius and deltoids. In short, all the big muscles of the upper back that tend to be neglected by keyboard rangers.

It also inherently involves some standing and light walking around which are beneficial as well. Its great that you found something that works for you, and you can always bump up the "workout" aspect with a higher-draw weight bow.
2013-04-10 17:56:00

I program and sit for most of my working day unfortunately. I've been lifting weights for about a 3rd of a year now and call tell you my posture has improved.

I can't see myself programming, lifting some weights than return to program like you can do with archery but if you can fork some cash over for a good barbell its well worth it.

2013-04-10 17:57:00

FYI: shooting is something you do with firearms. With bows, you draw them and loose arrows.

Bows can be bought in sporting goods stores in America, but it never hurts to check with your local PD if there are any state or county-specific restrictions. Bows, black powder guns and generally things that are made from a pattern prior to 1895 and that use "non-standard" ammunition aren't considered weapons, but rather antiques, and at most require a proof of age to purchase.

Stay safe and enjoy archery!
2013-04-10 18:43:00

I think “fireing“ is done with firearms. “shooting“ is ok for bows.
2013-04-10 19:09:00

regarding the terminology discussion:
2013-04-10 20:36:00

Of course you could've hired a pretty masseuse ;-) Never tried archery for that purpose, but strangely enough even digging a trench for some half hour makes it easier to concentrate on programming afterwards. Won't alleviate the back pain perhaps... OTOH a well done trench may have secondary uses. I digress.
2013-04-11 08:36:00

Cool! I've started archery as well and noticed an improvement in my posture and have less back pain as well. What distances are you shooting at? I'm doing 20 yards indoors.
Ralph Eastwood
2013-04-12 13:33:00

Currently only 14 meters (=about 15.3 yards), but I'm going to extend this soon :)
2013-04-13 06:28:00

The best thing I ever did for my back pain was buy a good chair - a decent Herman Miller will set you back maybe €500 new, but it will last for 10 years at least.

Don't get the Aeron, that's just for startups with VC money.
Comfy Chair
2013-04-13 17:16:00

I do my programming work, standing up. Works like a charm
2013-04-16 18:32:00

For want of space, I used to shoot at very close range - 20' - at a cardboard box stuffed with newspaper. The box had a postage stamp on it, that I used for my target. Later, challenged to a contest, I won without firing a shot, when I suggested dandelions at 50' for targets. My friend said, "You win."
2014-12-27 22:20:00

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