The lady in the picture above is showing many examples of poor computer posture which generally result in some degree of RSI if carried out regularly for extended periods as typically happens in the workplace.
What can I do to avoid RSI?
For computer users, RSI is a real danger. If you have pains, don’t assume they will pass in a day or two. Hopefully they will but they are just as likely to be warnings of more pain to come. RSI conditions can be permanent disabilities and appear without warning so you must take avoiding RSI seriously!
Our Computer Posture RSI Summary for Employers page may also be helpful to read.
What is RSI?
RSI covers many varied conditions and some medical people disagree with the term “repetitive strain” however in the context of conditions caused by computer use, it seems an accurate description.
Muscles held at their extremes for long periods fatigue, put pressure on other muscles and lead to other problems such as nerve entrapment and accelerated erosion of joints. Computer posture typically involves unconscious muscle fatigue through postures held too long. Moderate work stress also leads to unconscious muscle tightening so the sources of RSI are easy to spot!
Good Computer Posture
What’s your checklist?
- Maintain good posture – check these items:-
- Adjustable height seat
- Lumber support
- Screen at arms length
- Top of screen no higher than your eyes
- Wrists should be in line with your forearm and hand, not at an angle, when using keyboard and mouse
- Upper arm should be by your side and your inner elbow should be just about touching your side. Your forearm should be near horizontal and directly in front of your side. Numeric and function keypads on keyboards make this difficult to achieve and the tensed twisted arm posture is a major cause of RSI conditions.
This is why we strongly recommend a vertical ergonomic mouse and compact keyboard
- Thankfully highly effective software to monitor your posture exists using a webcam to spot when your posture ‘goes off’
- Keep moving and don’t maintain any fixed posture for long periods
You need to move your body around a bit. Physiotherapists suggest, humorously, that a seat with upturned pins on it is ideal…ensuring you didn’t sit there for long!
- Our list of tools and aids relevant to computer posture RSI conditions is below. :
- A vertical ergonomic mouse and compact keyboard are easy to get used to and eliminates the twisting forces and much of the tension between hand and neck caused by a conventional mouse and keyboard.
- A pull-along laptop/office bag considerably reduces the twisting action on your upper back and shoulder area if you carry a shoulder bag with a laptop or even a substantial lunch box in it!
- Vibration and massage therapy can bring fast relief to RSI pain caused by tight muscles.
- Software to monitor your posture comes with appropriate stretch exercises and also actively monitors your posture.
- A telephone headset eliminates the strain placed on your neck, shoulder and arm, particularly if you hold a handset between your cheek and shoulder.
- Software that types for you gives the wrists, arm, elbow and neck a rest through being able to dictate emails, reports etc.
In all cases, we advise you seek professional medical opinion (Doctor or Physiotherapist) if you are suffering pain that has any link to computer use.
Back and Neck postural problems often involve such things as “chin tucks” and you can read a concise explanation of many of the issues and appropriate exercises can be found on the Australian website PhysioAdvisor – Postural Syndrome
Some Doctors are more open minded about alternative therapies and even alternative diagnosis.
- Alexander Technique can be appropriate in reducing ongoing muscular tension, which is conventionally considered to be the cause of most RSI conditions.
- MindBody (Tension Myositis Syndrome) Treatment can be liberating and is highly recommended for those with diagnosed RSI conditions who are looking into the future with some gloom