In this highly computerized world, more and more people of all ages are experiencing aches and pains that come from sitting at a computer for long periods of time.
These aches and pains are felt in the neck, shoulder, upper and lower back, wrist and elbow joints. In some cases, the nerves to the hand can become affected, causing weakness and/or tingling in the fingers.
These symptoms can occur in the onset of Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI), which may include irritation to tendons, muscles, nerves and other soft tissues from repeated physical movements over time.
There are a number of factors that contribute to the onset of RSI, including:
Don’t ignore the early warning signs, such as weakness of your grip, numbness,and discomfort or pain in the arms, hands, wrists or shoulders. Early diagnosis and treatment are vital to ensure recovery from the symptoms of RSI.
The Canadian Physiotherapy Association has created the following S.M.A.R.T.guidelines for computer use that you and your family can follow at home, at school and at work. S.M.A.R.T. is an acronym for Stretch, Move, Add it up, Reduce strain, Talk to a physiotherapist:
Stretch – Include regular stretching into your work routine. Every 20 to 60 minutes, do three or four stretches – for hands, shoulders, neck and trunk.
The key is to move your joints through their normal range of motion. Inquire about computer software that is set to interrupt work at chosen intervals with appropriate stretches, or set your onscreen timer to remind you to take “micro-breaks” as needed to momentarily change your arm position or to shift your weight.
Move – Get up from your work station for a short stretch or walk around to promote blood flow to fatigued muscles every hour. No one has ever become more fit by sitting at a desk. Get regular daily exercise, away from the computer.It could be as simple as a walk around the office or getting off the elevator one floor early and taking the stairs. Moveout of the pattern that the work is creating (i.e. stretch the opposite motion). Ensure you are not putting pressure on the carpal tunnel; slow key strokes to allow the median nerve to move off the tendons.
Add it up – Add variety to your tasks. Take every break as an opportunity to go for a short walk and stretch. Keep track of activity and build up to 30 minutes of stretching and exercise every day. Vary your tasks (keyboarding,filing, telephone, reading documents, etc.).
Reduce strain – Make sure you are sitting correctly with your back supported:
Choose activities for leisure and recreation that will not continue to stress the same muscles / tendons (i.e. if you’re keying on the computer all day, hanging out on the internet at night, or knitting / crocheting throughout the evening, this is not providing proper rest for the muscles and tendons that worked all day).
Talk to us – RSI can be prevented, but if symptoms do occur, early intervention is the best form of treatment. If you are experiencing regular or increasing discomfort while sitting at your computer, take early corrective action. ProActive Rehab will listen to your symptoms and assess you to help provide appropriate treatment, including information about correct posture and positioning at your workstation. They will also work towards an earlier return to your daily lifestyle as well as provide guidance on how to prevent recurrence of injury.
Our physiotherapists are university educated healthcare professionals who assist people of all ages and lifestyles to gain and maintain their desired level of active living and physical functioning. With their applied knowledge and understanding of the human body in action, we are able to help you to increase mobility, relieve pain, build strength, and improve balance and cardiovascular function.
With proper precautions, correct posture and balance of computer work and active lifestyle, you will be able to avoid many of the aches and pains often associated with extended computer work.
ProActive Rehab & Sport Injury Centre is your centre of choice for effective injury management and prevention in a professional, relaxed, motivating environment. We will guide you along your way to reaching your full potential! ProActive Rehab is a multidisciplinary rehabilitation facility located in the heart of downtown Huntsville Ontario. We offer a wide range of services including physiotherapy, massage therapy, occupational therapy, aquatherapy and post-rehab aquacise, cardiac rehabilitation, custom foot orthotics, braces, supports and rehab products. We pride ourselves in being the centre of choice in north Muskoka for exemplary customer service, professional and effective rehab programs and experienced staff all in a relaxed and motivating environment! Shop on our online store click here