Repetitive stress injuries (or RSI) is a health issue that does not attack all at once. Unlike a large gash or a wound, RSI is a silent and gradual killer. It does not leave behind an obvious wound or bruise (although these tend to appear when the condition has reached severe heights), but the pain it leaves in its wake can cause sufferers to lose their concentration at work and ultimately, lose their jobs, as well as the normal use of an affected body part.
It’s hard to identify RSI in its early stages, since it may resemble the feeling of a simple body ache. However, RSI tends to attack certain points of the body. Knowing where these are could can help you anticipate its severity.
Symptom: A painful wrist
Solution: Change your hardware and introduce ergonomics into your office
The first, and most common symptom of a workplace injury brought about by stress and lack of movement is a painful wrist. Of all body parts, why the wrist? For starters, heavy computer users tend to use their wrist a lot for moving the mouse. The wrist is capable of making 360-degree movements, and that can be stressful around the muscles when done far too often. Apart from the fingers, you control bulk of the mouse’s actions with your wrist. If your office does not utilize computers as much, you may still be straining your wrist when you write, lift objects, or manipulate objects. Needless to say, when your work requires you to do things with your hands, you will be putting a lot of pressure on your wrists.
When you begin to experience a sharp discomfort around your wrists due to your lifestyle, you may be experiencing carpal tunnel syndrome, or the earliest and “youngest” symptoms of RSI. To arrest the issue, introduce ergonomic furniture and gear to your office as early as you can. For heavy computer users, a height adjustable ergonomic keyboard tray has often been a quick go-to solution.
Symptom: Sleeping, or sleepy legs
Solution: Standing up and stretching
A sedentary work routine only looks easy but it is also one of the worst lifestyles to live. According to researchers, sitting down for more than 8 hours a day increases your risks of getting heart attacks, high blood pressure, and a compromised immune system. One of the subtle symptoms of RSI affects the legs. What we may call “sleeping legs” can actually point towards severe lower back problems. Alternatively, those who experiencing this symptom may also be dealing with severe leg cramps throughout varying periods of the day.
The first solution to deal with this problem is to switch up your work positions when you can and to stand up and stretch from time to time. Alternatively, stand and set your feet on an ergonomic comfort floor mat so you can comfortably deal with sitting or standing for hours on end. The slight angle of an ergonomic floor mat actually helps with your body’s symmetry.
Symptom: Painful lower back
Solution: Maintaining a proper posture when sitting or standing
Perhaps the worst kind of pain many programmers and developers have experienced are those that affect their lower back. When this part of the body begins to hurt, it sends a very simple message: you haven’t been sitting and standing properly. The worst part about this symptom is that it affects your walking posture, as well. It is what many call the pain that keeps on giving, and the only way to arrest it is to train your lower back and to maintain a proper posture.
Symptom: Tight and sore muscles
Solution: Physical therapy, stretching, and exercise
If it has gotten to a point where you are dealing with tight and sore muscles on a daily basis, what you need is a more long term solution, such as a physical therapy, some consistent stretching, and a fixed exercise routine. Supplement your daily exercise routine with the use of ergonomic furniture, and try to live a generally more active lifestyle.
It also helps to spend less time in front of the computer or at work. While it is important to work towards your personal and professional goals, it is also important to take care of your body first. Your body is a vehicle– how can you make all your career goals come true when it’s no longer working properly?