Monday, February 18, 2013

How to avoid and treat Repetitive Strain Injuries

Bad backs, stiff necks, creaking joints, painful arms – these aren’t just the occupational hazards of working in an office. They’re symptoms of repetitive strain injuries (RSI), or occupational overuse syndrome. Here is a quick guide to the blights of desk-work, and how to avoid and alleviate them.


Sitting down all day may not sound particularly straining, but it can be, especially if you have a bad posture. So don’t slump, recline in your chair or sit too far away from your desk. Ideally, you should have your back in an upright position, with your legs at right angles in front of you and your feet flat on the ground. If you don’t have a good chair that’s adjustable, ask your boss to provide one. It could save him more than its cost in sick leave or even court costs if you end up seriously injured as a result of putting too much stress on your body.

Take a break

Spending long periods without a break can lead to molecular changes in your tissues, which release chemicals to deal with the stress. By taking a break from your workstation, you’re allowing your body and mind to recover from the continual onslaught of pressure. This is particularly true if you’re already feeling the effects of RSI, but also goes a long way to preventing it. The effects not just on your health, but your work, should be obvious, since healthy, well-rested workers are also more productive.


If you’re already feeling the effects of RSI, it can be partially alleviated by taking a break or by fixing the conditions which led to the injury, such as bad posture. But in some cases it’s too late. Don’t become attached to painkillers – they will mask the symptoms, but you’ll be doing more damage while you ignore the biological warning system and continue to abuse your body. Heat and cold packs can help, although only as short-term fixes. The best thing to do is to see your GP, who may refer you to a physio or even acupuncture.