The Basics of Ergonomics (Part 2)

Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSI)

RSI (also known as Cumulative Trauma Disorder) includes all injuries resulting from continuous, repetitive tasks that strain, stretch or compress the muscles, nerves or tenons.

Symptoms of RSI include the following:

  • Tingling, numbness and/or loss of sensitivity in the hands
  • Loss of strength in the hands that results in clumsiness and/or coordination
  • Pain, soreness or aching of the muscles in the hands, wrists, arms or fingers
  • Upper back, neck and/or shoulder pain

Preventing RSI

  • RSI is usually a result of poor posture or bending and stretching in such a manner as to compress or stretch soft tissue. Proper posture is the first line of defense against RSI. In typing at the computer, for example, make sure that wrists are straight and level. Avoid bending or stretching wrists or fingers excessively or repeatedly. Do not rest your wrists on the desktop or on the computer keyboard.
  • Avoid anything that feels strained or awkward.
  • Type loosely and hold the mouse gently. As much as possible, avoid using the mouse altogether by learning as many of the keyboard shortcuts as possible.
  • Additionally, take time to stretch and shift positions regularly and frequently in order to change up the way the soft tissue, muscles and tenons are being used.
  • “Shake out” your hands and arms occasionally to promote better circulation and to loosen up the muscles.
  • Take time out for breaks to relax and allow hands and arms to rest.
  • Take note of shoulder, neck or upper back pain as this is where problems often show up first.
  • Pay attention to frequent headaches as well. They could be a symptom of poor posture.


Online Help:

Exercises and stretches to do regularly (click on the number to watch an animated gif of the exercise):