7 Ways to avoid repetitive strain injuries at work
Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) is caused by the repeated motion of a muscle and can disrupt your working day. Here's are seven ways to avoid RSI at work
Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) is a general term used to describe any soft tissue injury resulting from the repeated motion of a muscle or group of muscles. It therefore covers a range of more specific disorders, including tendinitis and carpal tunnel syndrome. Other possible contributing factors include poor posture, lack of breaks and stress. Because of the mechanism of injury—repetitive muscle use—RSI most commonly affects the muscles and tendons of the arms.
Symptoms vary, but often include soreness, tingling, stiffness or numbness in the affected area as well as loss of function. In most cases symptoms ease and eventually disappear if the task or activity causing the problem is stopped.
Here are seven ways to reduce your risk of RSI at work:
1. Adjust your work area
If you work at a computer, make sure your chair, monitor and desk are at the correct height. Your eyes should be in line with the top of the screen.
"Organise your work area so that frequently used items are within comfortable reach"
Organise your work area so that frequently used items are within comfortable reach, avoiding any unnecessary twisting and stretching. Ensure the light conditions and temperature are comfortable and the noise level not too high.
2. Check your posture
Checking your posture, particularly if you are working at a desk or computer is important. Your wrists should be comfortable and the upper part of your arms should rest against your body rather than reaching forward to the keyboard. Your shoulders should be relaxed.
3. Move around
Avoid staying in the same position for extended periods of time. Most people type on keyboards in bursts, so try to shift position during these natural breaks. If your work involves repetitive actions, try to vary them as much as possible.
4. Take regular breaks
Take a break every 30–60 minutes to give your mind and body a breather. If you are sitting down, get up and stretch your legs.
"Take a break every 30–60 minutes to give your mind and body a breather"
Try to perform a few simple stretches every 1–2 hours: turn your head from side-to-side; raise and lower your hands at the wrists to relieve tension; make a fist and then spread your fingers out wide; bring your shoulder blades together to open up your chest; round your shoulders to stretch your upper back.
5. Pace yourself
Try to plan your work so that you are not required to work too intensely for several days to meet a deadline. Talk to your employer about ways to avoid such situations occurring in the future. Avoid working through the comfort barrier: if you feel that you’re placing your body under strain, stop and have a break.
6. Use equipment properly
Avoid gripping pens too hard. If you use a computer mouse, try to use your forearm and not just your wrist.
"Always select tools and equipment that are appropriate for the job"
If you do a lot of text messaging, use both thumbs or use your thumbs and your fingers. Select tools and equipment that are appropriate for the job.
7. Take regular exercise
Exercise relieves stress and keeps your muscles in good condition. Try to include aerobic and muscle strengthening elements as well as flexibility exercises such as stretching or yoga
Banner credit: Repetitive Strain Injury (Pikusisi-Studio)
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