Something which many IT people suffer from at one stage or another is Repetitive Strain Injury and although you wouldn’t have thought it could be very serious it can go on to cause a number of conditions from constant aches and discomfort through to permanent disabilities.
Whilst RSI which is a condition caused from repeatedly performing similar movements is not a new thing, it has become a great deal more common with the increasing use of computers.The symptoms of RSI can affect the neck, shoulders, back, arms, elbows and hands and vary from individual to individual.Pain is often encountered in any of these body areas and additionally the hands can be left with a feeling of weakness’ and fatigue along with numbness with loss of feeling and dexterity.
Luckily protecting yourself is relatively easy if you’re prepared to change your working patterns very slightly.As someone who has suffered pretty bad RSI in the past due to my job being entirely computer based I thought it would be prudent to share some useful hints to avoid my readers experiencing the same problems.There are two main areas that we need to focus on in order to reduce RSI, your posture and the way you perform various actions; it’s all pretty basic stuff but we’ll cover them point by point.
-Don’t slouch – Try to keep your feet firmly on the floor if possible as this will reduce the temptation to slouch your back.
-When seated at the computer make sure your head, neck and shoulders are all in line
-Don’t slump your head forward or arch your back.
-Keep your arms in a natural position with ideally more than a 90 degree angle between your upper arm and forearm.
-Do invest in a decent office chair and table; using furniture that isn’t fit for its purpose will make keeping any kind of good posture extremely challenging.
-Most importantly, do take regular breaks.I understand that the recommended once every half an hour isn’t really possible in most environments but do take a minute every now and again to get off the chair and stretch your legs.
-Your computer peripherals should feel comfortable which is why I always insist on investing in a decent keyboard and mouse.If you’re sat using a laptop for 8 hours a day using the inbuilt keyboard and trackball you’re going to suffer from RSI in no time – invest in a decent plug in keyboard and mouse for when you’re using your machine for extended periods.
-Do organise your workspace so that the keyboard and mouse are in comfortable positions and the monitor is approximately arms distance away.
-The fairly obvious ‘try not to use your computer more than you need to’ comment goes without saying.
-Pay attention to any pain or discomfort that you may experience – this is your body trying to tell you something so don’t ignore it.
Separate from the conversation of RSI it is also worthwhile getting in to a good habit when it comes to looking after your eyes when using the computer for extended periods of time.You should frequently look away from the computer screen and take the time to focus on fixed objects across the other side of the room which gives your eyes a break from focusing on the computer monitor right in front of you.Additionally do have your eyes tested frequently if you use a computer as poor vision will increase the likelihood that you could suffer from headaches and fatigue when using a computer.
Repetitive strain injury can cause some serious problems and it is worthwhile keeping in mind that they are more difficult to cure than prevent in the first place.Take the time to adapt your working style but if you have any ongoing symptoms then always do consult your GP to ensure that no damage is being done.
About the Author – Chris Holgate works for Refresh Cartridges who supply a wide range of printer cartridges at the UK’s lowest prices.