Sunday, 10 March 2013

RSI Prevention Tips: Prevent RSI and Other Computer Related Injuries

Twenty-first century work environments are heavily dependent on computers.

Whether you are emailing an overdue invoice or constructing a 3D image of a future shopping mall, you end up sitting for hours together in front of a computer during a typical workday.

Spending hours huddled in front of a computer screen does not come without accompanying side effects.

If you are wondering why you have suddenly been labeled as the official workplace hunchback, it could very well be due to extended hours at your computer workstation at the office.

You may suffer from a variety of health-related risks which are officially called ‘Computer Related Disorders’ or CRDs.

Unfortunately, it is quite common to come across working professionals who have suffered from health problems triggered by huddling over a computer for too many hours.



Key Health Issues Associated with Overuse of Computers

 

Cumulative trauma disorder (CTD) actually refers to many common diseases that affect the soft tissues of the body. CTD in itself is not a specific problem per se, but rather a category or concept that Doctors use to understand and explain what may have caused, or contributed to, certain conditions.

 

RSI or Repetitive Stress Injuries


Repetitive Stress Injuries (RSI) are associated with painful conditions of muscles, nerves and tendons caused due to prolonged poor posture.

Employees/People injured by repetitive Strain sometimes develop Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD) and is a serious condition. For more information on RSD we recommend the following resources:

Key Features of RSI:


•    The common causes of RSI include exposure to awkward body postures and continual pressing on hard surfaces (such as unconscious pressing on a computer workstation)

•    Unlike normal injuries that have a tendency to heal much faster, RSI symptoms can linger on painfully for days on end

•    RSI conditions typically affect the upper limbs of the body including fingers, forearms, wrists and elbows (all of which are overused during prolonged computer usage)

•    Common symptoms of RSI include pins and needles or a throbbing pain in the arm or elbow. You may also experience a loss of sensation in the upper limb area.
 

Tips to Prevent RSI


•    Comfortably designed computer workstations can reduce the effects of RSI significantly.

•    A correctly placed chair, mouse and keyboard can go a long way in reducing the danger of RSI as it prevents your having to lean over or continually overreach in order to type things onto your screen

•    Sit correctly: Go all the way back in your chair so that your derrière is supported by the back of the chair and the seat; this provides cushioning for your lumbar curve 

•    Aim to rest your feet on the floor (adjust the height of your computer chair) and keep your back straight without arching it. See also at these streches for the office.


Back Pain

Also referred to as Backache and Lumbargo

Although working at a computer involves ‘simply sitting’ for hours on end, this extended positioning of the body tends to cuts off blood circulation to muscles of the back causing severe back strain or back ache.
This can lead to a range of back related problems, the most common of which are

Causes and Features of Computer Related Back Pain


•    Poor posture or sitting incorrectly can cause fatigue in lower back muscles

•    Back pain can get triggered by inflammation of muscles of the back or also due to referred pain from other inflamed tendons and muscles

•    You may commonly feel computer related back aches as a dull pain shooting up the lower back or as spasmodic pains (flashing pains)

Tips to Prevent Back Ache at Work


•    Avoid sitting for more than a 20 minute at a stretch on a computer without taking a break.

A break should involve getting up and walking away from your computer station and stretching your stiff back without arching it.

•    Choose a broad desk that lets you rest your elbows while typing.
•    Practice some simple shoulder rolls; shoulder this will help reduce pressure on your spinal disks.

We Recommend the following resources for learning more about ways to prevent and/or reduce backpain at work:

 

Neck Pain


Overuse of computers can be quite literally a pain in the neck.

Causes and Features of Computer Related Neck Pain


•    You may experience a computer related neck pain in the form of a dull pain arising from the base of the skull

•    The most common cause of neck pain is the forward-slumping posture or peering attitude that most people adopt unconsciously while working on a computer.

This poor posture places your head ahead of your shoulders causing your neck to strain. Moreover, the forward slump also causes your upper back to have to strain to balance the pull of gravity on your head.

•    The most common neck muscles that become stiff due to extended work hours on a computer are the scalene muscles (muscles that assist in rotating the head)

Tips to Prevent Computer Related Neck Pain


•    The computer screen must be placed two to three inches above face level; you must be able to view the top third of your screen while in a sitting position

•    The chin tuck also called neck traction is a very good exercise that helps minimize neck stiffness and pain.
 Point your chin downwards towards your neck. This simple exercise can be safely done several times a day and helps lubricate sensitive neck joints


Shoulder Pain


Shoulder muscles are under continual assault due to prolonged sitting and peering at a computer screen.

Causes and Features of Computer Related Shoulder Pain



•    Poor posture while working on your computer can induce shoulder flexion (forward slump of your shoulders)

•    Abduction of shoulder tendons (one-sided movement or elevation of shoulder muscles)
Tips to prevent computer related shoulder pain

•    Lift your shoulder upto your ears and roll them backwards and down to normal position. This helps relieve stiffness

•    Keep your workstation clutter-free to prevent constant reaching out

•    Place your mouse on the same plane as your desk


Headaches and Eye Strain


If you depend on computers for your livelihood, nagging headaches can be an unwelcome side-effect that can leave you feeling frustrated and uneasy.

Causes and Features of Computer Related Headaches


•    The constant glare of an unrelenting computer screen can trigger headaches. A computer screen is similar to a television screen but you end up sitting much closer to a computer screen than a TV screen

•    The closer you are sitting to your computer screen, the more likely it is to get headaches or eye strain
Tips to prevent eye strain and headaches

•    Take a break every 20 minutes to stare at something 20 to 30 feet away from you

•    Adjust the glare of the computer screen to a level that feels comfortable to your eyes.

Further Reading and recommended resource:

 

What is Ergonomics and What are its Benefits?

Ergonomics is about the relationship between man and his working environment


Ergonomics is the scientific design of office and workplace equipment that leads to an increase in comfort, safety and health of employees. The improved workplace comfort and aesthetics invariably paves the way for better productivity and profits.


Key Features and Benefits of Ergonomics


•    Today’s information age ergonomics deals with scientific placement and design of your computer workstation, chair, keyboard, mouse and screen.

•    Properly implemented ergonomics results in reduced likelihood of health risks, accidents and injuries in the workplace.

•     Ergonomics does not follow a ‘one size fits all’ rule.

Workers in an office environment may be tall, short or medium height and the placement and design of individual workspaces must adapt to the user’s comfort.

•    Apart from caring for their employees, attention to ergonomics also helps organizations by reducing employee absenteeism due to sickness and injury.

•    Yet another excellent benefit workplace ergonomics offers is decreased employee turnover (workers are happy to work in a safe environment organization) and minimization of work medical compensation bills.
Excellent ergonomics results in happier, less fatigued and more invigorated employees. Since workers are rested and energized in their work environment, they are able to offer improved focus on tasks and assignments.

Tips to Improve your Workplace Ergonomics


•    Pay attention to lighting. Ask your employees if they find the light too bright or too dull to work comfortably. Anti-glare screens are a sensible investment.

•    Screen monitors must be placed at a distance of at least 20 inches (50.8 cm) from your eyes. As a general rule, the larger the computer screen, the further away it must be placed.

•    The screen should be adjusted to minimize reflection from windows and artificial lighting.

•    The keyboard must be so placed so that the centre line of the keyboard is directly in line with your elbow. (Read Typing Injury FAQ for more information)

•    Adjustable standing desks and chairs make it easier for employees of different heights to seat themselves comfortably in front of their computers.

•    Ergonomically contoured mouse designs include a curved shape to correspond with the curve of the palm plus an elevated thumb scroll to decrease stress on the wrist areas.


•    Modern keyboards have what is called an ‘optimal tenting range’ that allows users to easily access keys without having to elevate their fingers in order to type.



Rest Break Software and Voice Recognition


Taking regular breaks at the workplace sounds easy enough, but when you are totally engrossed in your work, very few people really remember to maintain the correct postures or stretch their muscles at regular intervals.

If being interrupted at regular intervals sounds like a disturbance, remember that it is precisely due to prolonged periods at the computer that the body suffers the maximum damage.

This is where Rest Break Software programs can help. They are designed to remind users to take regular breaks as well as direct their attention to stiffening muscles.

Source: workwave.org

Features and Benefits of Rest Break Software Programs


•    Reminds users to take micro-breaks as well as stretch breaks thus reducing the risk of repetitive stress injuries (programs do offer users the chance to postpone their break for a few minutes).

•    Helps employees become more aware of their posture, stiff muscles and work patterns.

•    Demonstrates desk, arm and finger exercises to reduce stiffness

•    Helps ease you into a comfortable schedule that can be customized your personal health requirements.

•    Offers a high degree of adaptability for users. For example, you can set your program to prompt you for a 10 minute break every two hours and later modify it to a 5 minute break every one hour.

•    Rest break software incorporates voice to text software to help you take your scheduled rest and stretch breaks

Ergonomic Rest Break Software is designed to help you enjoy a pain-free, safe and healthy experience at your workplace.