How to avoid Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI)
What is RSI?
RSI is often thought of as a modern day complaint, when in fact people have been suffering with RSI’s for years. The term RSI covers a myriad of complaints. There are almost as many RSIs as there are movable parts of the human body. However, when we hear about RSI, it is normally in relation to an injury caused by a working environment, and often these days related to the use of technology.
Someone with an RSI has a condition associated with repetitive tasks, forceful exertions, vibrations, mechanical compression and sustained or awkward positions.
Symptoms of RSI
So how do you know if you have an RSI? As there are so many types of RSI, there are also lots of symptoms but some of them might include:
- Tenderness in the affected muscle or joint
- Pain in the affected muscle or joint
- A throbbing (pulsating) sensation in the affected area
- Tingling sensation in the affected area (especially the hand or arm)
- Loss of sensation
- Loss of strength
As many people who have RSI have it as a result of their work or equipment, I thought I would focus on that. There are lots of things that can be done to prevent RSI and some of these will also help if you already have one, although it can take a long time to improve:
- Ensure that your workstation is ‘ergonomically sound’ – what does that even mean? Basically this will involve adjusting the height of your chair so that it is relative to the desk and so that you have lumbar support
- When seated, attempt to keep a good posture (no slouching!) Ideally your head and back should form a straight line from your ears to your pelvis – getting rid of your chair and sitting on an exercise ball can help with this
- When typing, your wrists should not be bent to one side, try to keep them pointing in a straight line with your forearm
- Try not to hit the keys on your keyboard too forcefully
- Learn to touch type is possible – This will involve using all of your fingers which will lessen the load of typing across all fingers and it will eradicate the need for having to constantly focus on your keyboard
- Learn all the computer keyboard shortcuts to save you from unnecessary typing – I know I should do this but can never remember them
- Don’t grip the computer mouse tightly and have it located close to your keyboard so you do not need to stretch
- An option maybe to consider a trial of voice recognition software to cut down or even eradicate the need for typing entirely
- If you use the telephone regularly you should obtain a headset rather than attempting to balance the headset between your ear and shoulder whilst typing
- Use ergonomic equipment
One brand who make it their business to be concerned about RSI and improving comfort for people is Penclic, who create Scandinavian designed computer accessories. One of their products is called the B2 Mouse.
Firstly it looks really stylish, but it also feels really good to use too. Smooth and easy and creates little to no strain compared to a regular mouse. It connects seamlessly through Bluetooth, and can be used on both Mac and PC.
It operates on any surface without a pad or tablet combining contemporary design, superior ergonomics and function. I wish these had been out years ago, they might have prevented lots of people experiencing RSI.
Obviously these don’t solve all the issues, but hopefully combining good equipment and some of the tips above RSI can be reduced.
Have you ever had RSI? What caused it and how did you overcome it?