Youve probably heard of RSI, better known as repetitive stress injury, and know how painful it can be to someone who has it. You dont want to get this condition yourself, so it cant be emphasized enough how important it is to prevent this disorder. There are a few simple changes that you can implement in your office setup and your work habits that might be able to save you a lot of pain months or years down the road. If you ever do get an RSI, then you should be prepared for healing to be a long, frustrating, and drawn out process. Prevention is the key.
One thing you can do to help prevent an RSI is to type correctly. This is one of the best things that you can do. You should never contort your hands to do key combinations on your keyboard, like a shifted letter. This is one of the most common mistakes that people tend to make when they are typing. By making key combinations by contorting one hand, you could experience tingling and numbness or a loss of feeling in your pinky.
This is known as cubital tunnel syndrome or ulnar neuropathy. Instead of contorting your hand to do key combinations, you should use one hand to hit the letter key and the index finger of your other hand to hit the other key. It puts strain on your hands to twist them.
If you rest your wrist on a wrist rest or your desk while you are typing, then you are forcing your hands to twist in order to reach some of the keys on the keyboard. It is better on you if you keep your hands moving freely above your keyboard and let the muscles of your arms to move your hands.
You should take frequent breaks from the computer and the keyboard. It is better for you to take several short breaks versus a few long breaks. You can take your hands off of your keyboard and let your arms drop to your sides, get up and move around for a few minutes, or whatever relaxes you a little.
You should do this about ever half hour to forty-five minutes. Take the time to stretch and loosen up the muscles in your neck and shoulders. By stretching, you are helping to prevent yourself from injury. Before you begin typing, you should stretch your wrists. Also stretch them several times throughout the day.
When you are typing it is important for you to keep you wrists straight and flat. How you hold your arms, neck, and shoulders can also contribute to any problems you might experience. Sit in your chair with your thighs level and your feet should be flat on the floor or on a foot rest.
Keep your back straight while youre sitting and your shoulders should be relaxed. Your arms should be bent at a rough 90 degree angle and the top of your monitor should be at eye level. If you must make adjustments, then make them to the monitor and keyboard, dont make them to your body.
photo of carpal surgery aftermath courtesy Dave Parker/CreativeCommons
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