Repetitive Strain Injuries – break the pain cycle
What is Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSI’s)?
Repetitive strain injuries (RSI’s) are soft tissue injuries that occur from overuse of a body part – when an action is repeated frequently or when the same position is held for a long period of time.
When this happens, the repeated stress placed on the muscles, tendons, and ligaments may lead to debilitating pain, inflammation, reduced range of motion, weakness in the affected area, and swelling.
The most vulnerable area for this type of injuries are arms, wrist or hand as this parts of our body do repetitive tasks more often than any other part of our body. Which part of our body may get this injury depends on what type of repetitive tasks we normally engaged with.
RSI’s can happen at home, at the office or in the gym.
At the office, many people find themselves spending a considerable amount of time at a desk performing the same actions over and over again for hours on end.
This can result in pain and injury to the hands, wrists, forearms, shoulders and neck causing reduced productivity or possible loss of work.
In the gym, you may be exercising longer and harder than you should without adequate rest and recovery, repeating the same exercises or exercise regimen all too frequently.
These repeated movements will cause microscopic tears in the tissues.
Because the body is not given enough time for the healing process to occur, this cumulative trauma results in pain, dysfunction and reduced performance in the gym, forcing you to take time off from your training.
It is advisable not to exceed 60 minutes of either weight training or cardiovascular exercise.
stretching can prevent Repetitive Strain Injuries
For those who have desk jobs or are working at a computer all day, injuries from repetitive strain and the potential health problems that may develop, are preventable.
By making these small changes to your work environment, the job will be safer and even more enjoyable.
- Ensure that your chair is at the correct height allowing for your feet to rest comfortably on the floor
- Your chair should have lumbar support to help take the strain off the lower back
- Keyboard height should allow for elbows to be at 90 degrees to keep your shoulders in a relaxed position
- Your monitor should be at about arm’s length
- Take a break every hour to get up and stretch
When it comes to exercising, whether you’re a weekend warrior or train on a regular basis, here are some simple steps to help you diminish the chance of developing injuries.
- Make sure you warm-up thoroughly (5 to 10 minutes)
- Don’t repeat the same routine every time you exercise
- Don’t overdo it; training longer is not always better
- When weight training, increase the weights gradually in order to warm up the muscles
- Allow for adequate recovery time so that the muscles and joints can rest.
Unless you are a competitive athlete, a good rule to follow is to do a weight training session one day followed by a cardio session the next.
- Never train the same body part twice in one week
- Take at least one day off a week
Do not wait until the pain becomes unbearable. Here are some things you should do at the first sign of pain.
- Medication: It’s always a good idea to consult a doctor before taking any types of medicine. However, for the primary stage, you can take anti-inflammatory painkillers and other muscle relaxants.
- Rest: take mini-breaks during your work day and take scheduled time off from exercising (at least one day per week)
- Stretch: stretching the affected muscles will help promote circulation in the area and increase the length of tight tissues
- Ice: cover an ice pack with a thin towel and apply it to the affected area (keep the ice pack on your injured area for ten minutes, then take a 30 minutes break and take this 10 minutes treatment again)
Treatment for Elbow Pain
If you have been experiencing elbow or wrist pain from repetitive stress, then you can try out this simple treatment at home
Fill 2 large bowls with water-
one with hot water (as hot as you can handle)
one with cold water (as cold as is comfortable)
Immerse your forearms into the bowl containing the hot water for one minute. And, then move to the bowl with the cold water for one minute
Repeat this treatment for a total of 10 minutes ending with cold water
Do this twice a day for one week – it will help reduce the pain and inflammation
If you have implemented the suggested preventive methods and tried the self-treatment options but the pain persists, you should seek help from a professional practitioner.
There are many great treatment options available: acupuncture, massage therapy, physiotherapy, chiropractic, and active release therapy.
Remember… an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.