5 Simple and Easy Ways to Prevent and Treat RSI
What do you do when you work with your hands – and then develop RSI? The best thing you can do is to prevent and treat RSI as quickly as you can. Let me tell you how.
First of all, I have total empathy for anyone who currently has or had RSI before. I have long understood it to be incredibly painful and debilitating.
These past ten or so days I have found this out in person to be, in fact, rather true. Thankfully, I don’t have it in both hands. My left – which while slow – is still functioning and doing its best to pick up the slack.
But I draw with my right hand. As I create graphics and draw webcomics, this has been quite the dilemma for me.
If you are an entrepreneur and do a lot of typing, drawing, or anything similar that can cause RSI then you need this article in your life right now. Don’t lose out on your time to be productive because of RSI, especially if you can help it.
Prevention is better than cure.
5 Simple Ways to Avoid RSI
1: Take Regular Breaks
Give your joints a break every so often. This is great for your eyes as well – particularly if you work with any kind of computer screen. For every 20-30 minutes of continuous activity, give yourself a 20-30 second break.
Stretch and flex your joints gently. Reach as far out as you can, stretching right up to the sky. Curl your fingers in and making a fist. Gently rotate each joint in small circles.
To avoid eye strain (equally important) look at something that is at least 20 feet away. Or about 6 meters if you’d rather something in metric.
If you find it hard to remember to take a break, there are handy little tools you can use to prompt you. I have the Timeout app on my Mac. Every 30 minutes, it pops up on my screen with a countdown of 30 seconds to remind me to look, far, far away from the screen.
2: Check Your Posture
Sit up straight. So many issues to do with RSI can be avoided just by sitting up straight. Get a decent chair. One that doesn’t have a wobbly leg and some kind of lumbar support.
Make sure your chair is at the right height for your posture.
You’re too high if you can’t put your feet flat on the ground. You are too low if your arm angle is tight – less than 90 degrees when typing. You’re not a t-rex or a toddler. Put your chair height up. (Yes, I have had to put my own chair up, also.)
To avoid eye strain, you should be eye level with the centre of your screen. Looking it right in the…middle.
If you have your chair set and for some reason you are still not looking your screen in the middle (with your head level and back straight) try sliding the screen further away on the desk or closer to you. Never have a screen closer than 25cm to your face. If it’s too low still, stack it up on something.
3: Exercise and Diet
This point is quite simple. Eating the right foods (and good quality of foods) lets your body maintain itself properly. This means your joints are being supplied with the nutrients they need to stay limber and heal any damages caused through regular wear and tear.
Exercise lets your body feel amazing and perform its best. It promotes good heart and liver health. This is awesome as your liver processes the foods you eat and sends the nutrients where they need to go. A healthy heart promotes good circulation, pumping those nutrients off to the places they are needed.
Like healing your strained joints, for example. I have never had RSI while I was keeping up with my exercise regime but alas, I had gotten lazy and this is what happened as a result. RSI.
4: Check Your Pastimes
Do your hobbies require hard use of the joints you use to work all day? Some things you might be doing that would continue to put equal or more strain on your joints include:
- Pruning (gardening)
- Computer gaming
You don’t have to stop doing these activities completely in order to avoid RSI. Just be aware of them. Make sure you give yourself a good stretch out after work, take an hour or so break, and warm up properly before hand.
5: Hydrate Consistently
Staying hydrated will keep your muscles limber and able to take the strain of repetitive tasks better than if you let yourself go for long bouts without a drop to drink.
Bonus: Consider using macro software. Designed to speed up tasks such as typing faster, they can take on repetitive tasks and automate them. Often, they are used by Web Developers or those who do a lot of coding. Expanding abbreviations as you type, or simulating a mouse click if you hover over a particular area for a particular length of time. Certainly, they are worth considering for both avoiding and coping with RSI.
5 Simple Ways to Treat RSI
I am sure you thought of this one almost immediately. One of the quickest and best ways for your body to recovery is to let up on what you are doing.
Give your body time to heal. Heal at maximum by not breaking or straining anything further.
2: Get to the Bottom of the Cause
Find out what is causing your RSI in the first place. You can’t fix a problem if you don’t know what it is.
Check your desk environment, habits and so on. Is there anything, or a combination of things, that could be triggering it?
3: Resistance Training & Lifting Light Weights
I know, this pretty much appears to contradict my previous point about avoiding joint heavy activities. But hear me out.
Lifting light weights means weights that aren’t overly heavy. As such, you aren’t straining yourself more than is absolutely necessary.
It will build some muscle mass around your hands, increasing circulation through the region. Meaning more blood will flow and getting those nutrients your joints need to heal.
You could also use a stress ball if that’s more up your street.
3: Avoid Anti-Inflammatories
Your joints become inflamed because your body has gone into emergency repair mode. Taking anti-inflammatories stops your body from healing a hurt joint.
Give your body permission to heal. Drink plenty of water and try not to aggravate the joint with aggressive work loads.
Massaging can encourage circulation to the hurt area. Again, good circulation speeds up healing. If you have tight knots in your muscle tissue a quick and gentle massage can help them to relax.
One of the causes of RSI is stress. Working too hard for too long is hard on you mentally as well as physically. It is inevitable that such a harsh pace will wear you down.
RSI also causes stress. It’s 100% a self-perpetuating cycle. To break the chain, you need to let yourself relax mentally. Have a coffee in your favourite coffee shop. Go for a long walk in the fresh air.
Do this several times a week and you’ll be well on your way to not only healing your RSI but preventing it from coming back again.
Don’t believe me? Try reading The Magic Effect of an Amazing Day Off and see if you think the same!
Take care of your health and your body, and it will look after you.
Have you ever had RSI? Let me know how you coped with it. If there is anything that I have missed or experiences which you would like to share, tell me about them in the comments below.