Strain Injury Repetition

DO YOU have pains and stiffness in your neck, or tingling in your wrists and fingers? Physio Bunny Martin told the April branch meeting that Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) is particularly difficult for sufferers to deal with because it is an invisible illness. Small movements may become impossible -- chopping vegetables, picking up shopping, even picking up a cup can be agony -- but you've no scars to show for it.

So doing shifts at badly-designed desks can be particularly difficult. You don't want to come over all fussy but you do want to be able to type next year. You need to listen to the early symptoms, and act on them. Now.

RSI is caused, she said, by lack of movement: this inhibits blood and oxygen from getting around the body. Modern keyboards are designed for people with standard-length arms -- and for people whose fingers are all the same length. This results in arm muscles being stuck in unnatural positions for hours.

Moving your desk a few millimeters can make a difference. Pad your chair out, with a Pelvic Tilt Cushion, which puts you in a forward-tilted position and stops you slouching -- you need to sit on the bones in your bum, not on the bottom of your spine.

You need to stop such bad habits. Make a point of catching yourself out as often as you can -- and get new habits.

Take breaks. Turn away from the monitor, get away from the desk, stretch. Look into the distance and to the side: exercise your eye muscles. Adjust the lighting -- see whether you can get overhead lights switched off and use a desk light instead.

Photographers who are always craning forward for a shot should do exercises to even out the pressure and stretch other muscles. It's hard to write up exercises, so call Bunny at Back to Back on 0181 767 2056 for details of advice sessions for freelances.

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