Repetitive Strain Injury Rsi Prevention

Simply altering a daily work routine greatly reduces the risk of a repetitive strain injury (RSI).

Maintaining correct posture and taking frequent breaks is important. With proper exercises and stretches, it is possible to prevent the pain and suffering caused by RSI. Recently, doctors have developed methods of designing work places to meet the needs of the worker.

FlexionErgonomics is the scientific study of the interaction between the human and the workplace. Application of ergonomics aids productivity, while reducing work-related disorders. Ergonomics achieves this by adapting the work to fit the person instead of forcing the person to adapt to the work.

For computer users, some points that may aid in prevention include:

  • Use voice recognition software.
  • Have an ergonomic assessment of your workstation fitting the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requirements.
  • Take regular breaks-several short breaks is better than one long one. Taking a break can be as simple as removing your hands from the keyboard and letting your arms drop to your sides. Every half hour, you should get up from your desk and stretch to loosen your neck and shoulder muscles.

See how long you can type without feeling pain, tingling, numbness, or even just heightened awareness; then subtract 10 minutes from this time. Do not type any longer than this without taking a break. If you can only type 10 minutes or fewer without such symptoms, then you should not be typing, writing or doing anything else that may cause potential problems. At this point you need to make an appointment with your doctor immediately.

The importance of RSI prevention cannot be overemphasized. A few simple changes in your work habits could prevent endless amounts of pain and hours of disability. For the most part, once you have a stress injury, the healing process is long and frustrating.

Stretches to Alleviate RSI

One of the most important changes you can make is to stretch regularly. Stretching helps to reduce inflammation and increase flexibility in the wrist tendons, and requires you to vary your routine. Doctors recommend that you stop working once an hour and get up, walk around, and stretch. Improved circulation from the motion and the stretching will also aid in the healing process.

Prayer Stretch: The prayer stretch is a good place to start. Place your hands together and gently push to one side, hold for 15-30 seconds. Repeat in the opposite direction.

Hand Stretch: Begin with your hand flat upon a table. Gently push up with you thumb and fingers applying counter pressure. Hold for a few seconds, then repeat 10-15 times. Do this once daily.

Arms Above Head Stretch: With your arms above your head, lace your fingers together and gently lean back for 30 seconds.

Full Body Stretch: Stretch your wrists and calves by leaning from your hips against a wall for 30 seconds. Alternate legs.

Doorway Stretch: Push your body forward as the resistance from the doorway stretches your arm and shoulder. Hold for 30 seconds.

Although you will experience a degree of discomfort when you stretch, do not ignore your body’s warnings. Should you experience lasting pain after any stretch or exercise, see a physician immediately. Never stretch to the point of severe pain. A stretch is most effective when it gently pushes the body’s current limits, not when it tears and damages already-inflamed tissues.


Serber, E. (updated 2004). Preventing and healing carpal tunnel syndrome and repetitive stress injuries. My Daily Yoga.

The National Women’s Health Information Center. (2001). Carpal tunnel syndrome.