Preventing Repetitive Strain Injuries at Your Desk

September 22, 2017 in Our News & Bulletins by Integrity Rehab

Most of us have jobs that require typing on a computer for at least some of the day. One danger that arises with typing for long periods of time is developing repetitive strain injury (RSI). RSI comes about when repetitive activities wear down the tendons, ligaments, or muscles of our hands. This can result in micro-tearing, inflammation, and nerve compression. Typing is just one activity that can lead to RSI. Symptoms of typing-related RSI include painful wrists and hands, numbness, or tingling. Typing-related RSI can also cause loss of hand strength. RSI can be very disruptive to life, and as with most strains, prevention is key.

One sure fix is to make sure you are typing properly. Poor typing technique is a major cause of strain. One big source is trying to use only one hand to input key commands such as ctrl + f. It’s best of use one hand to hit the function key and the other hand to hit the letter or number key. Not resting your wrist on the wrist pad is also vital, however when used properly to keep your wrists straight, your chances of carpal tunnel syndrome decreases. When resting the wrist on the wrist pad you are forcing your fingers to have to reach up at angles to reach the keys. You’re also putting pressure on your wrists this way, too.

Long periods of unending typing can also cause stress on the hands. It’s best to take breaks frequently. Every half hour or so is a good rule to go by, but feel free to take breaks more often if you need to. While on these breaks be sure to remember to stretch your wrists.

These rules about good typing posture also apply when using the mouse. Keep your wrist in a neutral position and don’t twist it to move the mouse. Use your arm to do so. Remember to practice good posture while sitting, too. Don’t slouch in the chair, and keep your shoulders relaxed.

If you are having serious hand and wrist pains, schedule an appointment with one of our occupational therapists, and we will look to see what is the root of your problems.  An occupational therapist may assist you in assessing the ergonomics at your work station, implementing nerve slides, and increasing postural stabilization of your shoulders, elbows, and wrists.