What is RSI?
RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury) is defined as an injury to the musculoskeletal and nervous system of our body. Such injuries are often a result of work related strain on bones, joints and nerves or bad postural habits. Causative factors responsible can be repetitive tasks, vibrations, forceful exertions, mechanical compression or awkward or sustained posture. It’s also known by terms like cumulative trauma disorders, repetitive motion injuries/disorder, repetitive stress injuries, sports or occupational overuse syndromes, and musculoskeletal disorders.
Often people who are working for long hours on computers involving excessive use of keyboard, mouse, and gaming pads etc. suffer from RSI of the wrists and fingers. The symptoms often involve:
- Pain and spasm in wrists and fingers
- Weakness of hands or forearms
- Numbness, tingling or sensory loss
- Poor control over movements and lack of coordination
- Hands are mostly colder than other body parts
- Hypersensitivity or elevated awareness of the hands
- Frequently craving of massage of the hands and fingers
It’s said prevention is better than cure. True. To prevent RSI you would need to make a few changes to your habits, working conditions and accessories.
- Maintaining good posture: This is the most important practice to follow. Here are a few tips to keep you going:
- Feet should be flat on floor
- Knees should be right above (in line) the feet, bent at 90 degrees and spaces a few inches from the chair
- Pelvis should be rocked forward
- Lower back should be arched inwards, best if supported by chair or a towel roll
- Upper back should be in its natural round position
- Shoulder and arms must be relaxed at sides
- Neck must be arched in, supported by the spine, and muscles relaxed
- Head should be balanced on the spine gently and there should be no tension in the back or chin
- Setting up your workplace: There are three most important equipment that needs adjustments.
- Monitor: It should be directly in front of you, such that eye level is between the top of the screen to the top 20% of it. Also, the screen should be 15 to 25 inches away from the eyes.
- Keyboard: Position it above your thighs such that while typing your elbows are at side and bent at 90 degrees. Your forearms should be parallel to the ground.
- Mouse: Keep it close to the keyboard such that you don’t have to strain to reach out to it.
Also, it’s important to choose your keyboard and mouse such that they minimise the strain on your hands and fingers. Last time I suffered from RSI after long hours of work on my laptop I decided to look for ergonomic designs for mouse and keyboard. I found that ergonomically designs accessories could range from within budget gadgets to highly expensive ones. I decided to give a try to a set of Ergonomic Design Keyboard and Optical Mouse from Gearbest.com.
The set was ultra slim with a scissor type design to minimise the strain on the wrist and finger joints. Besides having a compact style for the keyboard and mouse makes it easy to adjust on the table even when you’re using a laptop. Please note that using a laptop keyboard directly to work means lesser flexibility in adjusting the screen and keyboard position. Also, laptop keys are usually too crowded and too small to have a strain-free typing.
Since the set was wireless it also means that you’re free from the troubles from wires. Sometimes your workspace is too crowded and not planned properly, and thus equipment cannot be placed at your desired or recommended location because of wire length. Also, you are able to work better while making posture changes when working for long hours to avoid muscle pain due to constant posture.
There was no requirement of software installation to run them, directly plug in and use. The keyboard was provided with an adjustable tilt to adjust the angle of the keyboard as per your own height, position and comfort. Both mouse and keyboard are powered by AAA sized batteries and work with same receiver.
The best part of the keyboard mouse set was that it was cheap and well-within my budget of $20 with free shipping. However, if you’ve a better budget you may find more ergonomically designed keyboard and mouse on Gearbest.com.
They have a world-wide shipping of products and accept 21 different currencies.
- Proper typing technique:
- You must always keep the wrists straight
- Your hands should remain float
- You shouldn’t put any strain on your fingers
- Don’t stretch your fingers to reach to the distant keys like backspace, enter, and shift. Instead move your entire hand.
- Use both hands to type combination key strokes like those involving CTRL and SHIFT.
- When writing don’t grip too hard on the writing tool like pen or pencil
- Take breaks between work. Walk around for a few minutes every hour like to drink water, let your muscles relax. To relax your eyes look at a far object.
- Exercise regularly including stretching, strengthening and aerobic exercises.
- Use computer only as much as is necessary.
— Zigverve.com (@zigverve) December 11, 2015