Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) is a potentially disabling illness.  Anyone who uses a computer regularly is at risk. So repetitive strain injury prevention strategies are vital. Below, are 7 tips to help you avoid the injury.

Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI)  is caused by doing a particular activity repeatedly over a long period of time. It can be caused by a variety of tasks. However, it’s occurring more often as many workers are now spending long periods in a fixed position on computers. Many people mistake RSI with carpal tunnel syndrome, but CTS is only one form of RSI.

7 Ways to Repetitive Strain Injury Prevention

The 7 practical tips below can help reduce your risk of developing computer-related RSI.

  1. ENSURE DESK EQUIPMENT IS PROPERLY SET UP

There are three pieces of equipment that require special attention; your keyboard, mouse, and monitor.

Keyboard

  • Adjust your keyboard’s key repeat rate to avoid mistakes – then you won’t have to go back and correct.
  • When typing, don’t rest your wrists on the edge of the desk or bent to one side. Keep them pointing in a straight line with your forearm which is a neutral position and let your hands float above the keyboard with your wrist joint straight at all times. This lets your arm, shoulder, and back muscles do the work and avoid strain on the tendons and sheaths in your hand and wrist. It is this type of strain that can increase your risk of RSI. A gel wrist rest placed along the edge of the desk may help.
  • Learn all the computer keyboard shortcuts to save unnecessary typing.
  • Avoid stretching for the hard-to-reach keys, such as Backspace, Shift, Control etc. Instead, use both hands to type combination keystrokes.

Mouse

  • Don’t grip the computer mouse tightly.
  • Keep it close to your keyboard so you don’t need to stretch.
  • Move your arm (not just your wrist) when moving the mouse.

Monitor

  • Position your monitor correctly to avoid eye and neck strain. If your monitor is too far back on your desk, you’ll tend to hunch forward and jut your chin out in an effort to see the screen.
  • The monitor should be directly in front of you, with the top of the screen at eye level. However, if you wear bifocal glasses, you may need to have the screen slightly lower down so that you can see through the correct part of your glasses.

 

  1. MAINTAIN GOOD POSTURE

Bad posture is a primary risk factor in RSI.

  • Learn how to sit correctly so that you’re sitting in the right position.
  • When seated, don’t slouch. Sit so that your head and back form a straight line from your ears to your pelvis. Keep your feet flat on the floor and your knees bent at approximately 90 degrees.
  • Adjust your seat to make sure that you can sit up straight, instead of leaning forward over the keyboard.

 

  1. TAKE REGULAR BREAKS

Short, regular breaks can help prevent RSI as doing so allows your muscles to relax.

  • Don’t sit in the same position for long periods. Set yourself reminders to take regular breaks. Every hour or so, stand up and walk around. Stretch your arms and wrists and straighten your fingers.
  • If there are opportunities to take a break such as photocopying or printing, make use of them.
  • Instead of continuously looking at your computer screen, occasionally look at objects in the distance and look out the window to rest your eyes.

 

  1. VARY YOUR ACTIVITIES

If your job involves repetitive activities, you need to take extra care outside work. Avoid activities that increase the strain on joints and muscles that you’re already using at work.

 

  1. EAT A HEALTH DIET

The right nutrients and water will keep your body healthy and better able to repair itself.

  • Eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables.
  • Drink two liters of water every day.

 

  1. EXERCISE

Exercise regularly and include strengthening, stretching, and aerobic exercises.

 

  1. RELAXATION TECHNIQUES

Learn muscle relaxing techniques such deep breathing exercises and meditation.

RSI is on the increase due to our modern work and life patterns. Adopting the repetitive strain injury prevention strategies outlined above can help you prevent and alleviate the symptoms of this debilitating condition.