Working From Home Best Practices to Prevent RSI and Pain
People have been working from home more than ever before. The freedom and flexibility offered by remote work feel wonderful…until you start to feel the effects of a repetitive strain injury (RSI). Working from home often means working in conditions that aren’t always the most ergonomic (the couch is comfortable, just not the best position for your spine). Here’s how to avoid RSI and prevent pain.
If you’re a remote worker or just occasionally work from home, you’re no stranger to the physical effects that an informal work environment can yield. It might seem comfortable to work from your bed, but after a few hours, your neck and lower back will beg to differ.
Worse yet, those working from home are vulnerable to a particular kind of injury and pain — repetitive stress injury. This unpleasant occurrence not only causes discomfort at best and pain at worse, it’s certain to impede your productivity while working from home.
If you love working from home, make sure you’re aware of the physical effects it can have on you. Learning about repetitive stress injury and how to prevent it will make a world of difference in your work from home habits and enjoyment.
What is a Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI)?
As the name says, a repetitive stress injury (RSI) is caused by physical stress that results from repetitive motions. This isn’t a sudden injury, but a build-up of damage to body parts like muscles and nerves. There are different varieties of RSIs as well. Some of the more common types are:
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Rotator cuff tendonitis
These forms of RSI can cause serious discomfort and pain, so prevention is key to keeping your productivity and happiness high while working from home.
Causes and Symptoms of Repetitive Strain Injuries and Pain
There are a variety of causes for RSIs, including typing, sports training, and the usage of certain tools. However, there are certain risk factors for developing an RSI that you should keep in mind if you work from home.
- Staying in the same position for extended periods of time
- Putting stress on the same muscles often
- Lack of exercise and physical fitness
If you find yourself in these situations, you’re more at risk for developing an RSI. Additionally, it’s important to be on the lookout for the early signs of RSI. If you notice any of the following symptoms of RSI, you can take earlier measures to prevent any worsening of the condition. As you work from home, keep an eye out for symptoms such as:
- Tingling or throbbing sensations
- Burning and aching
- Pain or tenderness
- More awareness regarding a particular muscle or joint
- Stiffness or weakness
If you notice any of these symptoms, you’ll want to make changes to your working from home habits to test whether they’re related to your discomfort. Additionally, if the symptoms worsen or are prolonged, don’t hesitate to visit a specialist’s clinic like MidAmerica Orthopedics.
How to Avoid Repetitive Strain Injuries and Pain
As anyone that’s experienced an RSI can tell you, prevention is much easier than treatment. Luckily, there is plenty you can do to help mitigate your risk of developing an RSI.
Overhaul Your Work Station
- Your desk chair should support good posture, including lumbar support.
- Be sure your chair is the right height — that means feet flat on the ground.
- Keep your computer monitor roughly arm’s length distance from you.
- Use a computer mouse for extended work rather than a laptop tracking pad.
Habits for Preventing RSI
- Take breaks to get up and walk around, stretch, and give your eyes a break.
- Check-in with your posture to make sure your spine is correctly stacked over your hips.
- Keep your wrists in a neutral position while typing.
- Exercise to keep your body flexible and strong.
- Occasionally flex your wrists and fingers.
By checking in with yourself to ensure you’re employing all the strategies you can to avoid developing an RSI, you’ll be able to continue working from home in health and comfort.
Taking Your Health In Your Hands
Working from home is a great benefit but it can come at a cost without careful attention to the risk of developing an RSI. If you’re ready to take your health to the next level with professional help, MidAmerica Orthopaedics is honored to help. Take your health into your hands to protect your hands (and the rest of you!) from developing a repetitive stress injury. Reach out to us at (708) 237-7200 or request an appointment online at your convenience.