Some tips to help computer users prevent RSI

1. Sit in an upright position.

Don't slouch and lean forward towards your computer. Poor posture is one of the main risk factors in RSI. 

Adjust your display so that the monitor is directly in front of you, with the top of the screen at eye level except if you wear bifocal glasses. 

In front of the screen, ideally your computer desk should be on 2 levels. The top level for your papers, phone, and cup of coffee! and then a lower level for the keyboard and mouse.

2. Buy a decent office adjustable seat.

Your chair is very important. You spend a lot of time sitting on it, and if it doesn't give you the support you need or causes you to sit in an awkward posture, it can cause you a lot of problems.

Don't just use an old kitchen chair or stool, they will not support you properly.

The chair should be fully adjustable so you can adjust the height, tilt, backrest and armrest heights.

Make sure that you sit up straight, rather than leaning forward over the keyboard. 

Most people will tend to slouch and you need to straighten yourself up every so often.

Having got yourself a good chair how should you adjust it.

- The seat pan should be adjusted to tilt slightly forward, to encourage a good posture when seated.
- The backrest should tilt backwards about 10°.
- Your forearms should be approximately horizontal when working, with your shoulders and upper arms relaxed. 

The seat height should be adjusted accordingly.
- Your feet should be flat on the floor and your knees bent at approximately 90 degrees. 

- You may need a footrest beneath your feet if the desk is not at the right height. 

- The correct height of the footrest is the height your feet are off the floor when the seat height is correctly adjusted. If the chair fits you correctly, there should be about 2 inches (5 cm) between the front seat of the chair and the backs of your knees.

- Armrests should be low enough that you don't rest your arms on them while you are typing. Remove the armrests if they prevent you putting your chair at a comfortable distance from the keyboard, they interfere with your use of the keyboard or mouse, or if they prevent you from turning your chair easily.


3. Type using a Neutral Wrist Position

When you type, your wrists should be in a neutral position. 

Typing with your wrists in any position other than the neutral position puts additional strain on the tendons and sheaths, and increases your risk of repetitive strain injury.

4. Adjust (or replace) the Keyboard

Many people believe that, because cheap keyboards have a height adjustment at the rear of the keyboard, the back of the keyboard should be raised when typing.

This is not true.

The correct keyboard adjustment is one where the keyboard is flat and at or below elbow level. This position makes it easiest to type with your wrists in the neutral position. If you can't have the keyboard at the correct height, you should choose the adjustment which keeps your wrists as near to the neutral position as possible.

Watch out for what you do when you are not typing! It's all too easy to rest your wrists on the hard edge of the desk or table. A gel wrist rest placed along the edge of the desk may help you to you to stop doing this, as well as encourage you to avoid dorsiflexion.

More modern "ergonomic" keyboards, such as the Microsoft Natural Keyboard make it easier to type with your wrists in a neutral position. As well as splitting the keyboard in the middle to reduce ulnar and radial deviation, they allow the front of the keyboard to be raised to avoid dorsiflexion. In addition an integral wrist rest prevents you from resting your wrists on the hard edge of the desk when you aren't typing.

But watch out! Tempting as a wrist rest is, never rest your wrists on the wrist rest while typing. The wrist rest is for use when you aren't typing, not when you are.

Avoid using a laptop!

If you use a laptop, you will find it is virtually impossible to achieve a good posture. It's strongly recommended to avoid the use of a laptop as an everyday computer.

If you do most of your work on a laptop, put it on a box or some books so the screen is at eye level. Then find a separate keyboard so you can put it and your mouse on a lower level, with your elbows bent at about 90%.

5. Watch Out For That Mouse!

Many people develop RSI in their mouse hand. Dorsiflexion (wrist not parallel with the arm) is often to blame. 

A gel wrist pad (such as those made by Fellowes, Belkin or Innovera) may help you to keep your wrist in a better position while using the mouse. You should try to keep your wrist in a neutral position, just as when using the keyboard.

You may be able to cut down on your mouse usage by using keyboard shortcuts instead. 

If you switch mouse hands, it takes about a week to become ambidextrous as far as the mouse is concerned. However, watch out! If you haven't identified yet what the cause of the problem is, you will probably just get RSI in the other hand and have two sore wrists instead of one.

6. Take Regular Breaks

One of the most frequent pieces of advice you will hear if you have RSI is to take regular breaks. It's also one of the most difficult pieces of advice to follow.

It has been suggested that, for RSI prevention purposes, you should take a five minute break after every 20 or 30 minutes of continuous activity. If you are suffering from RSI you should clearly take more frequent and longer breaks.

It's difficult to remember to take a break while you are working. By definition, you are doing something else at the time. See some reminder software>>


7. Take it easy after taking time off.

Holidays are a great idea. They give your body time to recover from the rigors of the workday. But watch out when you return!

Think of yourself like a marathon runner. You've trained yourself over a number of years to execute thousands of precise movements with your fingers for a number of hours each day.

Then you take some time off.

If a marathon runner spent a month or two without running would he or she expect to be able to run a full marathon the next day? Don't expect too much of yourself when you return to work after an extended break. Take a little time to get back into the routine and work yourself up to your previous peak performance. Otherwise you, like the marathon runner, will risk injury.

8. Eat Your Veggies and Get Some Exercise!

I know, you've heard that advice before. But it is still good advice.

Not only is lack of cardiovascular exercise (that's exercise for your heart like walking, running and swimming) going to make you die sooner, it's also going to make you more likely to have RSI (and a host of other problems). So you'll end up with not just a short life, but a miserable one.

Obesity is another risk factor. If you're overweight, your muscles are having to support that extra weight. If you are very overweight, you may also find it difficult to find a typing position which avoids ulnar deviation. 

9. If in doubt visit your doctor.

Don't rely only on the Internet for all your medical advice. It may be out of date, or just plain wrong. A physician's physical examination may notice factors that you weren't looking for or aware of.

10. Do Something!

RSI symptoms may sometimes go away if you do nothing. Or they may get considerably worse. Don't take that risk.

Change your work environment. Change your work habits. 

Start taking regular rest breaks. See some reminder software>>

Don't wait until the pain becomes so bad that you need to take time off work. Don't wait until the pain is so bad that you can't sleep at night. 

Don't wait until you develop carpal tunnel syndrome. 

Don't wait until you need surgery to relieve the pain. Don't wait until your condition is so bad that you will never fully recover.

Do Something... And DO IT NOW!








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