RSI – Repetitive Strain Injury or Repetitive Stress Injury is caused by, as the title suggests, repeated movements causing strain or stress to the muscles.

However that isn’t actually what is happening. What is happening is that the repeated movement, poor operating techniques and poor posture is causing a lack of supply of nutrients to the working muscles. The muscles become strained because the tired fibres do not get the nutrients they need.

The most common RSI is with the wrist especially for people using keyboards – computers.

All muscles in order to operate successfully require an adequate blood supply, nerve influence and healthy fluid circulation.

In the tissues surrouding the muscles is a fluid called lymph. This interacts with the blood bringing nutrients into the tissues and muscles and taking toxins out of the blood and muscles and to the lymph nodes and glands for filtering and disposal before returning the cleansed fluid to the blood.

In an RSI, the blood, lymph and nerves have been restricted mainly due to posture while carrying out a repetitive movement.

Going back to the wrist, the areas that cause problems here are tight or restricted muscles at the base of the neck and tight or cramped pectoral muscles because of the nerve that feeds the arm and wrist which travels through these muscles.

Also while muscles are moving to continually repeat a movement much fluid exchange is taking place to supply the muscles with the nutrients they need to operate successfully and to take away the toxins built up from the energy expended to work the muscles.

In the wrist the area for the fluid and blood to travel through is fairly restricted and if the flow of these fluids builds up then the area around the wrist (carpel tunnel) becomes restricted and feels tight and pain results.

When typing or using the hands, keep the elbows and upper arms as close to the sides of the body as possible. This will ensure that the upper back and neck muscles are not strained. This will also open up the chest muscles a little more. Try to position your hands so that the wrists as you type are not bent so that the hands and arm are in line with each other.

I find the best position for me is with the laptop on my lap and leaning back on cushions on the settee with my feet up! My legs are bent with a cushion underneath. Sometimes if my back is very painful I lie down with a pillow under my head. My arms are at my sides and my wrists resting on the laptop spaces either side of the central ‘mouse’.

I appreciate that this isn’t the best position for someone working in an office! You must not only get your work station ergonomically assessed but also work out for yourself your best working position.

Continually check your posture while working and continually pull your shoulders back to open out the chest.

Your neck
Your upper back
Your chest
Your arms

Every 20 minutes or so, get up and walk around for at least 5 minutes to improve circulation. Go outside and get some fresh air ( not fag-break type of ‘fresh air’ as is done in the UK). While taking your 5 minute break drink a small glass of water to help dilute toxins and flush the body.

If the RSI is in the elbow it may be because you have repeatedly over-extended your elbow joint.
Muscles are designed to be used with the joint slightly bent, so that the belly of the muscle does the work. If your joint is fully extended then it is the ligaments and tendons around the joint that have to work especially hard to pull the limb into position for the belly of the muscle to operate. This puts a strain on the ligaments and tendons and causes pain. The only solution to the pain is to rest the elbow by resting your whole arm. Keep your arm to the side of the body as much as possible. To remind yourself to rest the arm, stick your hand in your pocket and this will take the weight of the arm off your shoulder. Massage should be applied to the neck, upper back, shoulders, chest and upper arm and elbow. No massage should be applied to the lower arm. Stretches should be applied to the upper back and chest.

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