Geeks, Beware: How To Avoid Repetitive Strain Injury
RSI (or repetitive strain injury) is a condition, resulting from a frequently performing a repetitive task, such as typing or clicking a mouse. The syndrome can affect anyone who spends long hours working on the computer – so, basically, all of us.
So What Exactly Is RSI?
Lots of people associate RSI with carpal tunnel syndrome – while in reality CTS is only one form of repetitive strain injury.
As we already know, RSI is caused by repetitive movement and inflicting too much strain on your muscles. What you probably don’t know – is that it can affect not only your hands and wrists, but also neck, back, eyes and arms – especially as a result of incorrect posture and staring relentlessly into the screen.
When in comes to hands and wrists (the most common form of RSI) here’s what happens. Repeating small hand movements for long hours and over a lengthy period if time can strain the muscles and tendons in your fingers, wrists, hands and even arms. This can lead to minor tears in the muscles, leading them to contract – this is where you may start to experience a limited range of motion.
The tendons can get inflamed as a result of the lack of liquid – that happens when they are not given enough time to rest. This can, in turn, affect the neighbouring nerves, and you may start to experience numbness, tingling or become too sensitive to touch.
But enough with the scary stuff. We may leave off at the fact that getting g RSI is highly unpleasant and, if not helped in time, can develop into a chronic condition – which will negatively affect your working efficiency and general well-being.
What Can We Do To Prevent RSI?
The biggest problem with RSI is that if you are already experiencing some of the symptoms described above, like numbness, tingling, lack of strength in your hands, loss of coordination and others – it probably means that you have already caused damage to your nerves and muscles and it can take months (or even years) to completely get rid of the symptoms.
This is why taking the necessary precautions BEFORE the trouble begins is essential and can save you lots of time and personal inconvenience.
First and foremost, make sure you take breaks – no matter how busy you are or how close that deadline is getting. Taking a two-minute break every 30 or forty minutes will not set you off track – and, on the contrary, you may experience higher levels of productivity.
If you tend to get lost in work and will probably forget to take the recommended break – a simple timer app can do the trick. Awareness is an application, available for both Mac and Windows computers that uses a Tibetan chime to remind you to take a break (you can set the time yourself)
Use your break time wisely. Instead is reaching for a TV remote, do a few stretching exercises. You can look up a few exercises online, if you are having trouble coming up with your own.
Watch your posture. You have probably been told that ever since you could sit – but it’s a simple and significant step towards greater physical wellbeing. You can use the same times app we talked about earlier as a reminder to check you posture and sit up straight.
Finally, adjust your working station for maximum convenience: make sure your desk is not too low, your chair offers good back support and your keyboard and mouse are ergonomic.
A few simple precautions taken at the right time can ensure that you avoid unpleasant visits to the doctor, taking long breaks from work, as well as pain and discomfort.
As Buddhists wisely note “a body is a temple” – so don’t take care of yours!