Repetitive strain injury (RSI), is a debilitating condition resulting from repetitive tasks, vibrations, and sustained positions. A common yet unknown versions of RSI is overusing our hands to preform repetitive tasks such as typing, clicking and writing. The result is damage to muscles, tendons, and nerves; causing weakness, numbness and impairment of motor control. Here are some tips to prevent RSI if you work at a computer all day.
1) Posture is very important when you are sitting at a desk for extended periods of time during the day. Some tips for posture are outlined by our professionals at ASMP:
a. Feet should be flat on the floor, knees over-top your feet.
b. Lower back should be slightly arched in, and upper back should be naturally rounded.
c. Shoulders and arms should be relaxed at the side of your body.
d. Most importantly your neck and head should be supported by your spine.
2) Set up your workstation to your likely, but remember the three most important parts to preventing RSI when constructing your workstation are: Keyboard, Mouse & Monitor.
a. Your mouse should be in a position that allows you to reach it without having to lean, stretch, or hunch.
b. Your keyboard should be just above your thighs, allowing you to type with your elbows bent at 90 degrees.
c. Your screen should sit directly in front of you, and located 15 to 25 inches from your eyes.
3) Proper computer use techniques will allow you to complete your job, while causing your body the least amount of wear and tear.
a. Keep your wrists straight while typing and let your hands float of the keyboard. Do not allow your wrists to rest on the desk or keyboard. By doing this, you allow your back muscles to help out while typing and don’t put so much strain on the tendons and nerves running through your wrists.
b. Never ever strain your fingers to reach keys. Don’t stretch out your pinky to reach the delete button, rather let your hands float and use your index or third finger.
c. Keyboards are very fined tuned pieces of equipment. Don’t pound the keys in, lightly touch them is sufficient for them to register and saves your fingers lots of work!
4) Proper use of the mouse can be even more important than using a keyboard. Mainly because while using a mouse, you are only using one hand, and clicking with only one finger! Putting enormous amount of wear and tear on that one finger. A simple fix to this problem is to switch to a trackball mouse or roller mouse. Both of these items can be purchased for less than 50 dollars. A roller mouse is preferred as it stays stationary below the keyboard and allows you to click the pointer with any of your fingers!
5) Finally, you should understand your body needs rest, and you wouldn’t be able to run on the treadmill all day long either! Every hour or so, get up to get a drink, go for a quick walk, stretch in a doorway; whatever works for you. By doing so you give your wrists, hands and fingers some optimal rest time!
Repetitive strain injury can happen to anyone, including you! If you use a computer for more than 3 hours a day, you are at a much greater risk to developing RSI. If you have any other questions or would like to further discuss RSI and how to prevent it, please feel free to contact us!