Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) is a condition caused by prolonged repetitive hand movements, such as those involved in computer use. Symptoms include shooting pains in the hands, wrists, forearms, and back.
Here are 6 simple tips to prevent RSI and reduce the symptoms.
1. Type with wrists in the Neutral Position
In Ergonomics, Neutral Wrist Position is defined as:
2. Adjust or replace your keyboard
The correct keyboard adjustment is one where the keyboard is flat and at or below elbow level. This position makes it easiest to type with your wrists in the neutral position.
A gel wrist rest placed along the edge of the desk can help prevent you from resting your wrists on the hard edge of the desk or table. However, you should never rest your wrists while typing even with gel rests. Only use this when you are no longer typing.
3. The mouse is often to blame
Many people develop RSI in the hand they use the mouse with as they tend to rest their wrist and flex it upwards in the Dorsiflexion Position when it should be in neutral, as when you are typing. Using a mouse pad with a gel can promote elevation in the wrist while using the mouse.
4. Take regular breaks
To prevent developing RSI, it is recommended to take a 5 minute break every 20 or 30 minutes of continuous desk activity, and more frequently if you have the condition. Set a reminder on your computer or mobile device and use this time to walk around and stretch your wrists.
5. Sit at the computer with good posture
Bad posture while at a computer can lead to numerous aches and strains in your neck, back, and even wrists. Bad posture is a primary risk factor in RSI because leaning forward instead of sitting up straight leads to resting your wrists while using the keyboard and mouse. Choose and adjust your seat so that you sit up straight, rather than leaning forward over the keyboard.
Refer to this article if you aren't sure what constitutes good posture.
6. Get treatment
The final step to reducing symptoms of RSI is visiting a physiotherapist where you will benefit from a prognosis, hands on treatment, and a program to help reduce your symptoms when you're sitting alone in front of a computer. The key to less pain could be as simple as changing your habits.