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Reverse Your RSI

Being a heavy computer user – I think most of us are these days – a common problem vexing many of us is repetitive strain injury (RSI) from mousing, typing, texting, video gaming – yes those last 2 are real!!

I too suffer from RSI and unfortunately have experience the ‘bad’ side – extreme pain and loss of hand mobility. After going through ‘traditional’ methods to help alleviate the pain, I learned that common methods, like stretching would only deliver temporary relief and in the long run didn’t bring about improvements. So I set out to find the solution that would deliver positive results and actually improve your RSI.

Before we get ahead of our selves, I’ll include some explanation about RSI – Or you can skip this section and scroll down to the first of three tips!

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Many Different Names with the Same Meaning
The following terms have the same meaning as RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury): MSI (Muscular Skeletal Injury), CTD (Cumulative Traumatic Disorder), WMSD (Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorder) and ASTD (Activity-Related Soft Tissue Disorder).
For easy of writing I will always use RSI.
What is RSI?
An RSI is an injury or disorder of the muscles, tendons, ligaments, joints, nerves, blood vessels or related soft tissue including a sprain, strain and inflammation, that may be caused or aggravated by work.
RSIs may have developed gradually over a period of time (resulting from chronic activities such as keyboarding, using a mouse, and continually painting with a brush) or may occur suddenly (resulting from acute activity such as overexertion when performing a single manual lift). Excluded from RSIs are injuries resulting from slips, trips, falls or being struck by or caught in objects.
Risk Factors – What Can Bring on RSI?
Physical Demands including:
  • Force
  • Repetition
  • Duration
  • Work postures
  • Local contact stress
Signs of RSI may include the following:
  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Skin color change
  • Difficulty moving a particular body part
Symptoms of RSI may include the following:
  • Pain
  • Joint stiffness
  • Muscle tightness
  • Muscle weakness
  • A feeling of “pins and needles”
  • Numbness
  • A general feeling of tiredness
  • A burning feeling
RSI May Progress in Stages
Early Stage: The body aches and feels tired at work but symptoms disappear during time away from work. The injury does not interfere with the ability to work. Usually the injury will heal completely if dealt with properly at this early stage.
Intermediate Stage: The injured area aches and feels weak near start of work, until well after work has ended. Work is more difficult to do. The injury may possibly heal completely if dealt with properly.
Late Stage: The injured area aches and feels weak even at rest. Sleep is affected. Even light duties are very difficult. The injury may not heal completely but effects can be eased if dealt with properly.
Not everyone goes through these stages in the same way. In fact, it may be difficult to say exactly when one stage ends and the next stage will begin. The first pain is a signal that the muscles and tendons should rest and recover. Otherwise, an injury can become longstanding and sometimes becomes irreversible.
There is strong evidence that the greater the intensity, duration and frequency of exposure to physical risk factors, the greater the risk of having an RSI. There is also strong evidence that reductions in exposure will reduce the development of RSIs. The efforts required to reduce the incidence of RSI are usually not complicated or costly.
Examples of RSI
  • Tendonitis (inflammatory condition affecting tendons in any part of the body)
  • Tenosynovitis (inflammation and swelling of a tendon sheath, usually affecting the wrist, often caused by repetitive movements)
  • Bursitis (inflammation a fluid-filled sac of fibrous tissue, known as a bursa)
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (condition affecting the wrist)
  • Epicondylitis (condition affecting the elbow)
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What Can I Do to Reverse My RSI?

By reducing/improving/eliminating the risk factors we should be able to achieve some great results.

Force – I’m assuming you aren’t pounding excessively heavy on your keyboard. Merely lightly tapping the keys with enough force for the key to engage your command. Until we move to touch screens, voice control, eye movement control no really improvements can be made for this factor.

Repetition – A Big-y for sure the solution to follow

Duration – A another huge one and the solution to follow

Work Posture – I would say the majority of us don’t have our computer/desk setup to be optimal for us but I won’t get into lengthy detail on how to do this. If you are interested improving your work posture/set up then I check out this these links.

Computer Ergonomics

WikiHow

One thing I’ve noticed – as I do have my desk/computer set up to meet these requirements – is after a period of time lets say 1 hour your body starts to get ‘tired.’ I know you aren’t exerting excessive physical activity but to hold any position still for any length of time will tire the body. So what ends up happening is the moving, shifting, turning, slouching that inevitably happens from staying in one position for too long and thus the result is a less than optimal work posture even though your computer set up started out as ‘ideal.’

Local Contact Stress – I’m assuming your wrist or arm is not being directed impacted by a hard object. IE your wrist is not resting on the edge of desk. This would be considered local contact stress and can cause extreme pain. If this is the case for you – I would seriously consider going through all the steps above for work posture for computer/desk set up.

Tip# 1 – Direct and Immediate Results!

Implementation: Easy

Difficulty Level: Easy

Results: Instant

As stated above, one of the key factors to RSI is a lack of frequent, short, rest, breaks through out the day. Many of us will work for hours on end and this is one of the major contributing factors to RSI pain. But taking short breaks at regular intervals has proven to drastically improve RSI. Now how on earth am I going to remember to take a 5min break every 30mins? When I’m in my  work ‘zone’ all that will just go out the window.

The solution…. Work Rave!!

Bonus: If you are an Ubuntu user go to Software Center type in WorkRave and presto instant RSI relief!!

I have been using it for a few years now and have recommended to many friends who also enjoy it.

It’s small, it’s simple, it does the job!

A friend of mine uses the breaks to take mini meditation breaks, another friend uses it as a cue to stand and stretch and another uses it as a cue to take quick walks up and down the stairs.

Breaks are only the first step but before we get too ahead of ourselves – Just start with that.

My next 2 posts will show you some cool techniques that you can do during those breaks. Taking regular breaks is merely a maintenance program – you won’t get worse (finger’s crossed) but you won’t get significantly better either. For me that just wasn’t good enough, naturally I took it to the next level.

Teaser: No, it’s not stretching! Like 99% of the population, I hate stretching and I recently learned why most people hate it. They do it incorrectly thus ineffectively thus they don’t see any results. We all want to see results and improvements – who doesn’t? Stay tuned for the next post…and Tip #2

3 thoughts on “Reverse Your RSI

  1. Pingback: Reverse Your RSI « French Fortune Cookie « TechsWrite: The Helpful Techie

  2. Pingback: Repetitive Strain Injury | Bilak

  3. Pingback: Repetitive strain injury(RSI)Find Me A Cure | Find Me A Cure

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