Bone & joint health Featured Physiotherapy Wellness

How to prevent repetitive strain injuries

Scroll. Scroll. Scroll. Click. Click. Click….Ouch! Ouch! Ouch!  Suffering from a wrist strain after using compute mouse

Repetitive strain injuries aren’t just from heavy lifting. Something that seems light — like typing or clicking a mouse — can also cause problems if you do it over and over for a long time.

Repetitive strains are injuries to the soft tissues of the body including muscles, tendons, and nerves and are caused by repetitive movements or overuse of the same body parts.

Repetitive strain injuries are cumulative in nature; the load of tasks adds up over time, especially if they are done improperly and without proper rest.

Here are some tips to prevent these types of injuries:

Plan and pace your tasks:

Doing the same motion over and over for a long time will tire and weaken your soft tissues. Weakened muscles and tendons become more prone to injury. So, switch up your tasks and positions regularly — this will allow you to use different muscles (and give the other muscles a break.)

Remember: a change is as good as a rest. If you are at a desk or machine all day and varying tasks is not possible, take regular breaks from prolonged repetitive tasks.

Maintain good neutral postures:

Neutral postures put your muscles and joints at an optimal length and position. These positions need the least effort on your muscles and they place the least amount of stress on your joints and surrounding structures. This means your muscles won’t get tired quite as fast.

What is good posture? Try it now: Stand or sit tall by pulling your chin in, drawing shoulders back, and maintaining the lumbar (low back) curvature by drawing your tummy in. For your arms, keep your shoulders relaxed and avoid shoulder hiking. Keep arms relaxed by your sides with elbows at right angles and wrists straight. This neutral arm posture is ideal when performing keyboard activities at the computer.

Of course, some tasks may require you to come out of neutral posture, but keep trying to return to neutral when you can.

To keep neutral posture and reduce reaching, place frequently accessed objects within reach and always get as close to your work as possible.

Physiotherapy and exercise

Throughout the day, pause what you are doing at work and do some stretches on muscles that are constantly at work.

You also may find it helpful to see a physiotherapist for advice on posture, proper body mechanics, and treatment if you have a repetitive strain injury.

Thanks for reading – now take a break, stand up and stretch!

About the author

Sara Cheung

Sara Cheung is a physiotherapist.

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