Everyone from office workers to grocery store cashiers and construction workers is at risk from repetitive strain injuries. These are common injures – such as carpal tunnel, tennis elbow, and bursitis – that you get from performing the same movements over and over again. While it’s tough to avoid repetitive motions at work, it doesn’t mean you’re doomed to get a repetitive strain injury. Here are three ways you can prevent RSIs.
Regular Exercise and Stretching
One of the pitfalls of repetitive motions is that they can lead to a tension buildup in your muscles. The tenser your muscles get, the most strain it puts on tendons, ligaments, and joints. It also means your muscles themselves become less flexible, which puts you at risk for other kinds of muscle strains as well.
Regular exercise, such as jogging or yoga, helps keep your muscles and connective tissues strong and limber. This reduces the odds of an RSI. Regular stretching throughout the day helps relieve any tension you may have built up while working. Stretching is just as important for office staff as manual laborers because office staff typically rack up a lot of stress on their wrists and elbows.
Optimize Your Workstation
Office workstations with a bad setup can set you up for an RSI by creating tension in critical areas of your body, such as your lower back or wrists. You want your workstation arranged so that it encourages good posture. That may mean replacing your desk chair with one you bring in that offers better back support. Make sure the chair sits at a height that allows you to rest your feet flat on the floor.
Your computer screen should be positioned, so it’s at eye level with you when you’re sitting. This lets you look directly at the screen. Tipping your head up or down creates strains in your neck and shoulder. If possible, position the keyboard so that your elbows and wrists align without your wrists resting on the keyboard.
Take Breaks to Stand Up
It’s absurdly easy to sit in front of a computer or at a station in a factory for hours on end. Unfortunately, this also encourages your muscles to tense up in a position. While you may not be able to leave your station or office, you can almost always find a chance to stand up, roll your shoulders, and shakes out your arms and hands. It’s an easy way to help prevent RSIS
Preparation and Self-Awareness Are the Keys
You can’t avoid repetitive motions in the modern workforce. Those motions are baked into our working lives. You can, however, use a little preparation and self-awareness to prevent RSIs. Get some regular exercise. Adjust your workstation to be more ergonomic and stretch. Listen to your body. If it feels tense, take a moment to stand or shake out your hands and arms.
Stuck in a job where the company doesn’t seem to care about repetitive strain injuries? Let GPS connect you with employers who do care.