As I was sitting at school yesterday, I noticed I had a slight pain in my hand everytime I tried to write something from the board down into my notes. I constantly massaged my hand and was thinking of reasons why this was happening. I hadnt been playing that much golf, I had only just started school and therefore too much work wasnt an issue. The only thing I could think of was typing, and the vast amounts I had been doing over the holidays and everyday when I came back from school.
Then it clicked. My dad had talked about a certain “Repetitive Strain Injury”. It occurs when you do the same task over and over again with the same muscles. If the body doesnt get a chance to heal then the situation gets worse and worse. Although I did take breaks in between being on the computer, some sessions could go into hourly periods. Even my optician doesnt advise this (and for those of you who want to know, I am extremely short sighted – basically blind!).
I decided to do some more research on the topic. Typical injury symptoms include tightness, general soreness, dull ache, throbbing, sharp pain, numbness, tingling. burning, swelling, and loss of strength in your upper extremities (hands, arms, shoulders, and neck). Yep I was certainly a contender for this. Apparently, in the office (or study), here are some factors involving RSI:
* Repetition – performing repeated motions in the same way with the same body part.
* Posture – placing a joint towards its extreme end of movement in any direction away from its neutral, centered position.
* Force – performing an activity with excessive muscular exertion/force.
* Static Exertion – holding an object or a body position in a still, fixed manner.
* Contact Stress – direct pressure on nerves or tendons due to resting the body part against a hard and possibly angled surface.
Now here’s the real meat. In order to avoid getting this annoying and potentially dangerous injury (both to your health and your business), you should firstly be looking at improving your working environment. This might include rearranging office furniture to better accomodate for keyboards, mouses (or mice!) and the screen so that you can develop a better in-work posture.
Also, listen to what your body is telling you. If you are in pain, then take a break and don’t work through it. Its better to miss a little business time then to completely ruin your business by not being able to communicate online. For me, typing is crucial. I write posts by typing, I speak on MSN to web designers, programmers and friends who help me along, I post on forums so I can network with other entrepreneurs and I browse through other blogs; writing comments and emails along the way. Without being able to do this, I just wouldn’t be able to expand on the net, and all my tasks would take so much more longer. Efficiency again is the key, and in this case, keeping good health in your hands and your general body is of the utmost.
And if you’re too late, and RSI has engulfed your working time, seek change:
Unlike most injuries that you can go to a doctor and “get fixed” with little personal effort, RSIs are brought on and aggravated by a variety of stimuli/activities/reasons. These factors occur throughout your day and must be identified and eliminated, or at least reduced as much as possible, so you can heal.