3 Ways to Avoid Repetitive Strain Injuries
09 Feb 2021-
If you asked everyone in your next office Zoom meeting to raise their hand if they’ve experienced discomfort in their neck, shoulders, wrists, or fingers while at work, chances are, everyone’s hands would shoot up. OK, almost everyone’s.
There’s always going to be someone with super-genes or an indestructible constitution who’s never felt pain (or at least has an unshakable determination to deny it and maintain their rugged reputation, if they have). But the majority of people whose professions involve repeated motions, such as sitting or using a computer for several hours every day, are at risk of repetitive strain injuries.
Usually, when we think of workplace injuries, we think of someone getting hurt on a construction site or some other labor-intensive environment. But, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other health authorities, repetitive strain injuries (RSI) can affect people in non-labor intensive fields as well, including, predominantly, office workers.
Here’s what you should know about RSI and what you can do to avoid them.
What Causes RSI?
Repetitive strain injuries (RSI) refers to a range of disorders. It’s most common in the neck, shoulders, arms, and hands but can occur in any movable part of the body. RSI is caused by repetitive movements that strain the muscles, tendons, and nerves. Over time, this strain can accumulate and cause microscopic tears.
Previous injuries, like a wrist fracture, increase your risk of developing such a condition, but they aren’t a necessary precursor. Various tasks can cause RSI, from lifting heavy objects daily to routinely sitting in the same position or typing for hours at a time. Those with a sedentary lifestyle are more vulnerable as the body will be more easily taxed by light activities. However, active people are not immune.
Symptoms can include pain, inflammation, reduced range of motion, throbbing, swelling, increased sensitivity to heat or cold, numbness, weakness, lack of coordination, and tightness or cramping.
Untreated, these injuries can increase your risk of developing other conditions, like carpal tunnel syndrome.
The good news is that RSI is highly preventable. Here are some steps you can take to reduce your risk.
How to Prevent RSI
Assume the Position
Are you sitting up straight? If you weren’t, don’t worry; we’re not judging. Most of us don’t have ballerina-perfect posture (and for those of us with conditions like scoliosis, that’s never going to happen). However, we could all benefit from putting in a little more effort. Slouching, whether while seated or standing, can strain the spine, neck, and shoulders and lead to issues including pain, fatigue, and headaches.
If you sit for much of the day, invest in a chair with lumbar (lower back) support or an adjustable desk that allows you to stand and sit intermittently. When seated, keep your feet flat on the floor and thighs parallel to the ground; don’t cross your legs. Your hands, wrists, and forearms should be aligned with the desk or keyboard if working at a computer.
If you stand for most of the day, stand on an antifatigue mat for extra support. This can reduce pain in your feet and decrease some tension in your knees and back.
Adjust Your Mouse & Keyboard
Constant mouse maneuvering and clicking can lead to wrist and hand tension. Try to use keyboard shortcuts instead of the mouse as much as possible, such as using the arrow keys instead of the pointer to scroll on a page or Tab to navigate form fields. If you find clicking painful, consider downloading free software to eliminate the need to click.
Typing can cause similar issues to mouse usage, including carpal tunnel syndrome. Use StickyKeys, if you have Windows, which allows you to streamline typing with multi-key commands to avoid holding modifiers, like Shift, while pressing other keys. Predictive text and autocorrect can also help you reduce keystrokes.
It can be hard to tear yourself away from the desk when you’re in the middle of a busy day. But doing so could pay off in terms of better health and productivity. Now, we’re not suggesting you take off for an hour-long Netflix session or shopping excursion mid-morning. But taking short, strategic breaks can help to relieve tension, improve blood flow, and boost energy.
Every 30 minutes to an hour, stand up and stretch, march in place, or walk around. This isn’t the time to check your Instagram or texts. Instead, wiggle your fingers and flex your wrists. If you have one, use a stress ball to grip and flex the muscles. These exercises can help too.
Because of its anti-inflammatory and regenerative properties, taking CBD may help your body to maintain a healthy stress response and keep discomfort at bay.
CBD interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS), a vast molecular network comprised of endogenous cannabinoids (endocannabinoids), receptors, and enzymes. It spans the brain and body and influences various systems and processes, including pain response, immune function, sleep, memory, and appetite. The ECS is responsible for keeping all of these elements in a state of equilibrium or balance. CBD and its fellow cannabinoids work by influencing the ECS and helping it work more effectively to keep all systems in order.
You can read more about the ECS here and about CBD’s influence on pain here.
If you are curious about CBD, either oral (tinctures, capsules, edibles) or topical (creams and balms) applications may work well for musculoskeletal discomfort.
As with any supplement, it’s important to talk to your doctor before adding it to your routine.
Also, if you have any questions about CBD or Bespoke products, don’t hesitate to ask!
Suffering from Repetitive Strain?
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