Repetitive strain injury or RSI is a serious problem for millions of office workers and can be far more damaging than back pain caused by prolonged periods of sitting. If you work in a job that requires you to sit at a desk a lot then it’s extremely important to try to sit and hold yourself in such a way as to cause the least damage to your body and avoid both back pain and wrist pain.
Looking After Your Back
To avoid back pain make sure you have a chair designed for use in an office and adjust it to the correct height, so that your feet can lay flat on the floor with your knees at a 90 degree angle. Make sure you get up from your seat regularly, move around and stretch as much as you can to avoid stiffness. Try to sit up straight and keep your spine straight whilst you work.
Looking After Your Wrists
There are lots of things that can lead to RSI in the hands, wrists or forearms, including:
- Working in cold environments
- Repeating the same motions over long stretches of time
- Lack of training in how to sit and position properly
- Not resting frequently during the working day
- Working with the wrong type of equipment
- Keeping your muscles in the same position for long periods
- Working too fast
- Working for long hours
Although some of the things on the list cannot be changed, such as the hours you work, there are other things you can do to lessen the risk of contracting RSI or to ease pain if you are already suffering from problems in your hands, wrists or arms.
Make sure that your computer screen is at eye level as this will prevent eye strain and make it more likely that the rest of your body will be in the correct posture. When typing, your upper arms should be able to point straight downwards without touching the desk and your upper arms should be at an angle of no more than twenty degrees above a horizontal position.
Keep your mouse close to your keyboard to avoid stretching across the desk and if you use your mouse a lot try to alternate it between both hands to lessen the effects of repetitive use.
Make sure that your chair is adjusted so you can lay your feet flat on the floor. If this means that the desk is too high then you may need to adjust the desk height or place a step under the desk to rest your feet on.