How to Avoid Repetitive Stress Injury?

As its name suggests, repetitive stress injury (RSI) is caused due to do the same activity or motion repeatedly until it starts hurting you. Any repetitive movement, like typing on a computer or practicing an instrument, can cause repetitive stress injury. It gets better on its own over time, but there are things you can do to avoid it in the future.

What is repetitive stress injury?

“A damage to your muscles, tendons or nerves due to repetitive motion and strain is called repetitive stress injury.” It is also called repetitive strain injury.

These are widespread injuries affecting the finger, thumbs, wrists, elbows, arms, shoulders, and knees.

Causes of Repetitive stress injury

It happens when your body experiences the same stress over a long period. Common causes include

  • Lifting heavy weights
  • Working in the cold
  • Sports that involved the same repetitive motion.
  • Poor postures while sitting or standing
  • Working with a vibrating tool
  • Work too hard without taking a break to cool down.

Which professions are more likely to be affected by RSI?

  • Athletes
  • Assembly line worker
  • Musicians
  • Jobs where employees sit at a desk for a long time.
  • Computer-related jobs.

Symptoms of Repetitive stress injury

Pain, swelling, numbness, stiffness, weakness, fatigue, and tingling are the most common symptoms of repetitive stress injury.

Effects of Repetitive stress injury to your body.

The RSI takes starts from simple pain and swelling and then turns into a damaging condition over time, like

  • Nerve compression syndromes are caused by direct stress on the nerve.
  • Herniated disks that are rupturing of disc caused due to pressure on the spinal cord.
  • Bursitis occurs when the bursae (cushions) between the bones, tendons, and muscles become inflamed.
  • Ganglion cysts are lumps that most commonly develop in the wrist.
  • Tennis elbow causes pain around the outside of the elbow.
  • Stress fractures

How to avoid repetitive stress injury?

The best advice anyone can give about RSI is that “prevention is better than cure.” Still, you are unfortunate and notice that you are developing this condition; there are several actions that you can take to deter it from getting any worse.


How to avoid workplace repetitive stress injury?

Rearrange your workspace

Keeping tools and supplies, you regularly use within easy reach is also important. Twisting or stretching to reach them can increase your risk of pain and injury.

Invest in a headset

Consider using a headset if your job entails much talking on the phone. If you don’t want to use a headset, try to avoid cradling your phone between your ear and your shoulder.

Takes regular breaks

It’s a fantastic idea to take a 30-second “micro-break” every 30 minutes. During each break, shake out your hands and arms. Also, relax your eyes, head, and neck by refocusing your vision on a point about 20 feet away from you.

Takes regular walks

Every once in a while, leave your desk and take a walk. Try to take a 10-minute break every two to three hours. Taking a long walk on your lunch break is also a good idea.

Use proper safety equipment.

Work equipment that is too large, too small, or non-functional can force your body into dangerous stress. Make sure that you use proper tools and safety equipment.

Exercise regularly, including strengthening and stretching.

To eliminate the root causes of RSI, you must focus more on stretching and strengthening exercises. Most of them you can easily do in your office during breaks.

Wall stretching

Extend your arm along a wall, with your arms parallel to the ground and your palm facing the wall. Struggle to open the chest so that the shoulders are perpendicular to the arm. Extend fingers and palms away from the wall as much as possible. Hold for 30-60 seconds. It is excellent for simultaneously stretching out the shoulder, arm, wrist, and hand.

Doorway stretching

Hold elbow at a right angle, place forearm along the door frame, and push forward, keeping chest and pelvis facing squarely. Hold for 30-60 seconds. Try holding arms at different angles. It is best for stretching your shoulder.

Back and neck strengthening

You get on your knees, lay your chest on the ball, and put the rod on your back to make contact with your rear, back, and head. The ball should be big enough, so the rod slips slightly up. Then, slowly raise the dumbbells off the ground and lower them back down. You can have the arms at different angles but start with them extending behind you, as that is easier. Also, try turning your head from side to side occasionally as you go to activate the neck muscles. For this exercise to be effective, you do not need heavy weights, and heavy weights may strain your already fatigued muscles.

How to avoid computer-related repetitive stress injury?

Take a break.

RSI occurs when a muscle or connective tissue is used repeatedly without repairing it. So to avoid stress, the easiest way is to take a break from repetitive motion. That will give your muscle time to heal.

Touch typing

It’s the best typing method to avoid most office-related RSI.
Place the keyboard flat on the table, keep your wrists elevated and touch the keyboard keys with your fingertips.

Maintain a straight neutral posture

Typical desktop typing posture increases muscle fatigue and injury risks. Sitting up straight in a neutral typing position cuts down on the neck, lower back, and shoulder problems. To sit in a neutral typing position proceed with these basic steps.

  • Keep your feet flat on the ground while your neck and back are straight.
  • Adjust your elbows to an angle between 90 and 110 degrees.
  • Keep your wrists in a neutral position.
  • Move your monitor, so the top of your screen is at your eye level.
  • Invest in the west rest pad
  • Place your mouse next to the keyboard, not above nor far back. Otherwise, it can stress your arms and shoulder.
  • Invest in a wrist rest pad to maintain a neutral wrist posture.

Invest in trackball

The trackball is an upside-down mouse that rotates in place within a socket. It is designed to fit the hand, and there is no need to bend your wrist.

Invest in a separate keyboard and mouse for your laptop

Laptops are undoubtedly excellent in portability but not suitable for maintaining a neutral posture. As the keyboard is compact and the screens are small and fixed.
To combat these shortcomings, purchase a separate full-sized keyboard and mouse and attach them to your laptop, using the laptop as a monitor. Place the keyboard at the same height as your elbow and the laptop screen straight to your eye level.

Use sticky keys

Sticky Keys is an accessibility feature to help users to reduce repetitive strain injury. This feature serializes the keystrokes instead of compelling users to press multiple keys simultaneously.

Employ wrist-saving keyboard shortcuts.

Using keyboard shortcuts can help ease repetitive strain injury in the fingers and wrist caused by overusing a mouse or touchpad. And as these shortcuts become your habit, they can help you write more efficiently.

How to avoid repetitive stress injury in Athletics?

All athletes should practice warm-ups, especially those who have to repeatedly make the same motions, like pitchers, sprinters, or shot-putters. Emphasize different muscle groups on consecutive days to allow adequate recovery time for your muscles. As a part of recovery, make sure to eat a balanced diet high in protein and calcium, which aids in muscle and bone strengthening.

How do you avoid repetitive stress injuries related to physical jobs?

If you have a job that requires picking up heavy loads, consider a back support/lifting belt and use proper lifting techniques to save yourself from RSI.

Basic lifting techniques include:

  • Keep a broad base of support.
  • Kneel, bending at the hips and knees only.
  • Look straight ahead, and keep your back straight, chest, and shoulders back.
  • Slowly lift by straightening your hips and knees. Don’t twist as you lift.
  • Hold the load as close to your body as possible, at the level of your belly button.
  • Take small steps and use your feet to change direction.
  • Keep your shoulders in line with your hips as you move.
  • Set down your load carefully, kneeling with the knees and hips only.

How to avoid sports-related repetitive stress injury?

  • Before playing sports or working out, perform stretching and warm-up exercises.
  • Give your body breaks between playing sports.
  • During sports or other physical activities, always wear the proper protective equipment.
  • Don’t play if you feel pain.
  • Repeat the stretch exercises after physical activity.


Many of us experience wrist, finger, shoulder, or arm pains related to our work. Revise your workspace and habits to be more ergonomically friendly to lower the risk of pain and injury. If you don’t feel safe completing a physically requiring task by yourself, ask for help. And make an appointment with your doctor if you develop pain or other symptoms of a repetitive stress injury. Getting treatment can ease your symptoms and lower your chances of complications.

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