Are you aware of the toll repetitive tasks can have on your body? Many of us overlook this, but it's crucial to recognise the potential consequences, such as repetitive strain injury (RSI). In this article, we explore this condition and suggest ways to help prevent it.
RSI causes discomfort and pain in your muscles, nerves, and tendons due to repetitive movements and overuse. It commonly affects people engaged in repetitive activities such as: office work, assembly line tasks, construction, retail, music, and sports.
The primary cause of RSI is the overuse of a particular muscle or muscle group; especially when you also use awkward movements. Factors such as poor posture, and exerting yourself too much or when your muscles are tired, contribute to muscle fatigue and damage. This damage can trigger inflammation and swelling, leading to pain, weakness, numbness, and trouble using the affected area.
RSI commonly occurs in your upper limbs encompassing your fingers, wrists, hands, forearms, elbows, and shoulders. However, the lower limbs are also susceptible, like ankles, feet, legs, knees, and hips. Additionally, areas such as your neck and back, which are the main areas that affect our patients, are also prone to repetitive strain injuries.
This condition results in a range of common disorders, including: bursitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, golfers elbow and tennis elbow, shin splints, tenosynovitis (affecting the sheaths surrounding tendons), trigger finger, and even certain spinal issues.
Can you prevent RSI developing?
To prevent the development of RSI here are several key measures you can take:
• Take regular breaks from repetitive tasks to allow your muscles and tendons time to rest and recover.
• Maintain good posture: by naturally holding your body with ease, you can reduce strain on your tissues.
• Strengthen the muscles involved in the repetitive task: fit muscles take longer to fatigue and are less prone to injury.
It is also important to prioritise good ergonomic practices; however everyone's needs are different so personalised guidance is essential. Seek expert advice to find the right solutions for you, including suitable equipment, breaks and rest periods, posture adjustments, and exercises if necessary.
RSI can cause significant and long term discomfort and disability; if you have questions about this condition, please ask us. Prevention is always better than cure.