Repetitive Stress Injury
When a coworker came into the office sporting a wrist guard to alleviate a flare-up of her (recurrent) carpal tunnel syndrome, it hit me that even sitting here, growing our asses fatter by the day, we office workers are not safe from injury.
You might think of repetitive stress injuries (RSI) linked to the repetitive motions of factory workers (Laverne and Shirley et. al.), but in fact, a mouse can be as dangerous as a power tool over the long run. According to the American Institute of Stress, "75-90% of employee visits to hospitals are for ailments linked to stress," while "$200 billion a year is lost to industry [in the U.S.] from stress-related ailments." But to hell with your boss - take care of yourself! Says www.repetitive-strain-injury.com, "RSI is a treatable condition. However, it is important to remember that once a case of RSI becomes too serious, it may not be curable." (And don't expect paid time off to recover or worker's comp...) If you regularly feel pain or tingling while working on a computer, you must change your work position to avoid permanent injury!
Quickie Workstation Ergonomics
There is plenty of info on the Internet on this.
- Keep your thighs parallel to the ground. (Allows proper circulation.)
- Keep your back straight while you work.
- Do NOT rest your hands on your keyboard while typing.
- Keep your back and neck straight while sitting at your desk.
- Keep your head/neck straight towards your monitor.
- Hold your mouse lightly and type lightly.
- Keep your hands + wrists straight while you type. (Elbows in!)
- Keep your keyboard FLAT or raise the front (NOT the back!).
It is important to get up at least once every 30 mins to walk around and stretch. Every few minutes, relax your hands by your sides and focus your eyes on a distant point. Stretching exercises can help you prevent RSI, but should be undertaken with caution: use a slow, controlled effort, do NOT bounce (which can stretch muscles beyond their capacity), and ease back from the point of pain (which is a warning sign of potential tissue damage).
Further information can be found on these websites:
- Computer Related Repetitive Strain Injury
- Computer and Desk Stretches
- Workplace Ergonomics
- Everyday Yoga
- Exercises you can do at your desk
- The 10 Commandments of Computer Comfort
- Exercise at Work
If you know a doctor in Taiwan who treats RSI, please let us know!