Repetitive Strain Injury, or RSI, is a real problem within office environments. As defined on the NHS website: Repetitive strain injury (RSI) is a general term used to describe the pain felt in muscles, nerves and tendons caused by repetitive movement and overuse.
The most common cases of RSI affect a person’s arms, necks, shoulders and lower backs. If you suffer from recurring pain or cramps in your arms or lower back while sat at your desk, then you may have RSI. If untreated, RSI can develop into swelling around the affected areas, causing even more pain. If you suspect you suffer from RSI, you should consult your GP. There are a few things that you can put in place to reduce the risk of RSI.
To reduce the risk of RSI, you should sit upright in your chair, with your feet flat on the ground. The top of your computer screen should be eye level so that you aren’t straining your next to look at your screens. Your arms and wrists should be straight and not bent while typing. You can invest in a monitor stand and an ergonomic keyboard and mouse mat.
To the left, you can see a picture of an ergonomic keyboard. Note the slightly curved design, and the padded wrist rest at the base of the keyboard. These keyboards are designed to be comfortable to use and to prevent RSI. While they may sometimes take some getting used to as they are often a slightly different shape, they can greatly impact the comfortability of constant computer use. Ergonomic keyboards come in a vast range of shapes and styles, so if you’re interested in an ergonomic keyboard, it may be worth looking around to see which one would most suit you.
To further prevent RSI, you may wish to look at the chair that you are using. Many office chairs now will be designed to reduce the strain on a user’s back. Oftentimes, the back of the chair is curved in a way to complement the user’s spine.
These are the chairs that we use at the Affordable IT office. Note the shape of the back, allowing a snug fit for our backs, as well as the small cushion near the bottom to support my lower back to reduce strain. As a person whose posture is often so bad that my colleagues will usually comment on it, this chair has drastically improved the health of my back. You don’t have to get something as fancy as this, though. Any office chair with a bit of extra support for your back can drastically reduce the risk and symptoms of RSI. It is very important to protect your back otherwise it will impact you in your later years, affecting your ability to walk and perform simple tasks.
Another common cause of RSI is something as simple as using the phone. If you regularly talk on the phone by holding it to your ear using your shoulder, then you are at risk of causing strain to your neck and shoulder muscles. The best way to counteract this is to get a headset for your phone. There are many benefits to this, as you will no longer be straining your neck, and your hands will be free to type or write down notes without any trouble at all.
Your employer has a legal duty to put steps in place to help prevent RSI in the workplace, so it would be worth having a word with your boss to see what they can do to help you. It would also be worth talking to them if you develop any symptoms as they can carry out a risk assessment to reduce the strain on yourself. It is also recommended to take small frequent breaks rather than one long lunch break to help ease the strain on your body.
If you would like to talk about implementing ergonomic equipment within your office then call Affordable IT on 02380 000 770 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and we would be more than happy to help you out!