Repetitive strain injury often starts gradually but can soon become severely debilitating. But there are ways to nip it in the bud – and alleviate the worst symptoms.
1. Take Frequent Breaks
Take short, frequent breaks from repetitive tasks such as typing. A 10-minute break every hour. Use the computer only as much as you have to. Small hand movements, like scrolling on a screen, seem to set off RSI.
2. Type using both hands
It’s like playing the piano; correct fingering is essential. We tend to overuse one side of the body.
Become ambidextrous, e.g. use the mouse in your other hand, lift the kettle with the other hand.
Get up from your desk every 30 minutes and move your neck and shoulders to release tension.
4. Use a Fountain Pen
When writing by hand, use a thick grip fountain pen that flows really well, rather than a ballpoint pen. Needing to push down on the pen, even lightly, makes the inflammation of RSI worse.
5. Check the ergonomics of your work station
Keep wrists straight and flat when typing. Sit with thighs level, feet flat on floor (or on footrest), sit up straight, shoulders relaxed, upper arms at sides, not splayed out, forearms horizontal or tilted slightly downwards, so knees and elbows are at a right angle. Keep the top of your screen at eye level and adjust the position of your keyboard, so it’s easy to reach without stretching or hunching. Don’t slouch. Use good posture. To keep wrists straight and flat use a gel wrist rest for the keyboard and the mouse.
6. Keep wrist straight when sleeping
Don’t curl your hands into a fist when sleeping. Some people wear a brace to keep their sore wrist straight.
7. Strengthen the supporting muscles
A physio will give you exercises to do to strengthen the arms. e.g. bicep curls
Stretch neck, shoulders, arms, wrists. I find yoga is excellent for a full body stretch. The downward facing dog pose can cause discomfit in the hands, but I try to remember to flatten the knuckles to reduce pressure on the wrists.
Like yoga, a regular massage helps keep the body aligned and pain free.
Hope you find these tips useful. Good luck.