There are three main things that lead
- Poor posture
- Repetitive motion
When all three of these are present, you run the risk of developing RSI.
And even though these are the three main causes, there are other things
that can factor in to the equation.
You probably donít think much about this when youíre sitting at your
computer, but most of your day is spent sitting in the same position for
hours on end. Itís not that you canít be "comfortable" sitting at your
desk, but you have to change positions frequently. This helps to shift
stress to different parts of your body and to increase blood circulation.
The best way to avoid stiffness and stress is to take breaks. Yes, weíre
all driven by the need to produce and to just "get it done," but RSI can
lead to extreme pain when typing, so why not take a couple of precautions
Stress is often thought of as a psychological problem, but it often
pans out into physical effects. Your muscles tend to tighten up when you
are stressed. This may cut down on circulation, and can also cause muscle
You may think that only strenuous repetitive motions put you at risk,
but case studies prove that easy movements, like typing or playing the
piano, can lead to RSI. In other words, you may be injuring yourself when
you do a motion continuously, even though it doesn't hurt -- at first
-- when you do it.
The "correct" way to type is to have the monitor at eye level, so
that there is no strain on your neck. Your wrists should be straight and
level, not bent back, when you type. Also, it is better to type in a warm
environment, to keep your muscles warm and relaxed. Air-conditioned and
poorly heated rooms increase the risk of RSI.
Caffeine, alcohol, prescription drugs and nicotine are all considered
drugs, and they can all help bring about RSI. Caffeine is particularly
dangerous -- and remarkably prevalent at a university. It stimulates the
brain and reduces fatigue during prolonged activity. As a result, it can
hide how tired you really are, and enable you to put more strain on yourself
than you would normally allow.
When you drink alcohol, your sleep is not as deep as it should be.
If you donít get enough "good" sleep, you wonít be able to work safely.
Nicotine hinders blood circulation. It is important to keep up your
circulation to remove waste products from the blood stream before they
can build up.
If you are double-jointed, when you type your finger joints tend to
collapse instead of holding firm. This makes your wrists bounce up and
down more than they should.
Injuries to your hands, wrists, back, shoulders and upper arms can
all make you more susceptible to RSI.
Weight is a risk factor. The muscles of overweight people must support
a greater load. Overweight people have to work harder to hold their forearms
up to the keyboard. They are also more likely to be out of shape, which
is itself a risk factor for RSI.
If you are out of shape, your muscles do not work at an optimum level,
so some muscles have to work harder than others. Typing should work your
back, shoulders, arms and hands, not just the forearms and fingers.
Women are more at risk than men. Females tend to work at jobs that
put repetitive strain on their wrists. They also tend to have weaker muscles.
In addition, some doctors say that pregnancy, menopause, and taking oral
contraceptives or post-hysterectomy hormone supplements may increase susceptibility.
Also, most workstations are designed to fit the needs of the average male,
and women may be unable to adjust these arrangements.
The older you are, the more likely you are to develop RSI. The longer
a person has been at his or her job, the more stress may have built up,
and the more bad posture may have been reinforced.