A general perception about injuries is that we get injured while performing strenuous exercises. What most people don’t know is that they can get injured even while performing regular tasks like working on their computer because of stress. Yes, in today’s times where every office-goer spends a large amount of their office hours before a computer, Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) has become common. Computer related RSI hugely affects your upper body parts such as elbow, wrist, forearm, hands, back, shoulders and neck. If not attended to, computer related RSI can develop into a major injury over the years.
What is RSI?
Performing forceful, awkward and repetitive tasks subjecting the body towards a musculoskeletal or nervous system injury causes RSI. RSI is an umbrella term for the various conditions that can be related to these causes such as edema, tendinitis, De Quervain syndrome, golfer’s elbow, trigger finger, entrapment injury and more.
Computer related RSI
Computer related RSI is a more specific form of RSI injuries caused by prolonged and chronic use of computers. According to Statistics Canada, around 2.3 million people were affected RSI’s in 2000 and the number must have already sky rocketed with the technological revolution in the past decade. The report said that 25% of the injuries reported were caused in the neck / shoulder region, 23% in the wrist / hand, 19% in the back and another 16% in the elbow / lower arm, all of which can be caused by prolonged use of computers. The injuries can be painful and might restrict your physical activity for quite some time. The injury is treatable, but it is even easier to prevent this injury if you make small changes to your sitting position, posture, keyboard ergonomics and mouse clicking.
Tips to prevent Computer related RSI
There are four things you need to take care of when preventing computer related RSI: your posture, seating arrangement, your key board, your mouse and your monitor.
- Seating Arrangement and posture
The first step towards preventing computer related RSI is to tune your seating arrangement and correct your posture. Always make sure you use an adjustable chair for sitting and adjust its height as suited to your body dimensions. A seat is at an ideal sitting position if your feet touch the ground / footrest comfortably and your knees are slightly raised from seat level. Make sure your chair has support for your entire back including the lower region.
Stressful and repetitive mouse clicks cause wrist injury and nerve entrapment injuries like the carpal tunnel syndrome. Reducing your mouse click speed will decrease the pressure on your fingers and wrist region. To avoid repetitive clicking you can download free auto clicking tools like Auto-Clicker.
When typing, make sure your wrists are in a straight position. If the need be you can use the keyboard support knobs to place it in an inclined position. When typing, do not overstretch your fingers, especially the pinky finger to reach out to the corner buttons like Delete or Backspace. Switch to the predictive text and auto-correct modes to avoid unnecessary typing.
A display should be placed at a distance of 18 to 24 inches with the screen not being higher than the viewer’s eyes. If it is not possible to decrease the distance between the monitor screen, install a key board extender or tray.
Change your computer habits with the above tips before they turn into a painful injury!