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How to Avoid RSI at Work

Source: Safety Concepts

Almost one in five office workers suffer from repetitive strain injury (RSI) according to a report by the New York based Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

The report went on to say that while millions of dollars are spent trying to find the cure for RSI we don't appear to be getting very far. In fact it is generally agreed that the most success comes from prevention, not cure.

The number one cause of RSI is the huge impact of computers in our lives - in particular the use of keyboards. Almost every worker in an office from the receptionist to the executive suite works daily with a desktop or laptop. Even in a world where the use of the personal device and smart phone is fast becoming the next "platform" PC use is as mainstream as paper and pencil.

The report says that incorrect seating, poor work regimes and appalling physical fitness can play a role in RSI, which is why many experts often prescribe special exercises to help lessen the effects of long hours spent at the computer making hundreds of thousands of key strokes. While these movements may be small, they carry the risks and dangers of any athletic activity.

There are some simple tips to avoiding RSI and still remain productive at work.

First, start with a good chair that has as much adjustability as possible and is easy move. The chair should not be so long that it digs into the back of the legs, and the chair's height should be adjusted so that the feet can touch the floor without dangling.

To help improve posture, select an ergonomic designed keyboard. If you cannot change your hardware make a simple adjustment to the keyboard. Slip a board, about 25 centimeters thick, beneath the lowest side of the keyboard. This provides a "negative" tilt, taking some strain off the wrists and encourages you to sit up a little straighter,

According to the American College of Orthopaedic Surgeons, sufferers of RSI can be aided by the correct environmental climate with which to operate at work. The college suggests workers change the desk height, change the seat, and use a foam wrist rest.

Another field of thought says that the best way to treat RSI is keep the tendons supple and moving. The theory is that tendons that move heal better, so people are encouraged to warm up by doing fine motor movements such as wrist twirls and finger lunges to keep things supple.

By limiting how much hands and wrists move you can cause muscles to contract and tendons to shrink. People end up alleviating some of the pain, but they tend to put added stress on some of the other muscle groups. The goal is to maintain a range of motion.