Repetitive strain injury often starts gradually but can soon become severely debilitating. But there are ways to nip it in the bud – and alleviate the worst symptoms.
1. Take Frequent Breaks
Take short, frequent breaks from repetitive tasks such as typing. A 10-minute break every hour. Use the computer only as much as you have to. Small hand movements, like scrolling on a screen, seem to set off RSI.
2. Type using both hands
It’s like playing the piano; correct fingering is essential. We tend to overuse one side of the body.
Become ambidextrous, e.g. use the mouse in your other hand, lift the kettle with the other hand.
Get up from your desk every 30 minutes and move your neck and shoulders to release tension.
4. Use a Fountain Pen
When writing by hand, use a thick grip fountain pen that flows really well, rather than a ballpoint pen. Needing to push down on the pen, even lightly, makes the inflammation of RSI worse.
5. Check the ergonomics of your work station
Keep wrists straight and flat when typing. Sit with thighs level, feet flat on floor (or on footrest), sit up straight, shoulders relaxed, upper arms at sides, not splayed out, forearms horizontal or tilted slightly downwards, so knees and elbows are at a right angle. Keep the top of your screen at eye level and adjust the position of your keyboard, so it’s easy to reach without stretching or hunching. Don’t slouch. Use good posture. To keep wrists straight and flat use a gel wrist rest for the keyboard and the mouse.
6. Keep wrist straight when sleeping
Don’t curl your hands into a fist when sleeping. Some people wear a brace to keep their sore wrist straight.
7. Strengthen the supporting muscles
A physio will give you exercises to do to strengthen the arms. e.g. bicep curls
Stretch neck, shoulders, arms, wrists. I find yoga is excellent for a full body stretch. The downward facing dog pose can cause discomfit in the hands, but I try to remember to flatten the knuckles to reduce pressure on the wrists.
Like yoga, a regular massage helps keep the body aligned and pain free.
I’m reposting this post from last year when we were deeply in the midst of the pandemic. It’s worth having another read about the benefits of poetry:
‘Neurologists at Exeter University, using functional magnetic resonance imaging, found that reading poetry activated different brain regions to prose – even the lyrical prose we find in fiction. When the research participants read poetry, it lit up the regions of the brain variously linked to emotion, memory, making sense of music, coherence building and moral decision-making. Poetry, the study’s authors concluded, induces a more introspective, reflective mental state among readers than does prose.’ – Sarah Holland-Batt, Weekend Australian, 21–22 March 2020
And they read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still.
And they listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced.
Some met their shadows. And the people began to think differently.
And the people healed.
And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.
And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed.
‘Poetry is the quiet music of being human and in these days and nights when our humanity is fully vulnerable and exposed, poetry takes a small step forward. In our separate isolations, a poem is like the Tardis: bigger on the inside. Like spring – to recall TS Eliot – poetry mixes memory and desire.’ – Carol Ann Duffy, The Guardian
This poem by poet Ian McMillan, reminds of us of just what we lose each time a library is closed.
I always loved libraries, the quiet of them, The smell of the plastic covers and the paper And the tables and the silence of them, The silence of them that if you listened wasn’t silence, It was the murmur of stories held for years on shelves And the soft clicking of the date stamp, The soft clickety-clicking of the date stamp. I used to go down to our little library on a Friday night
In late summer, just as autumn was thinking about Turning up, and the light outside would be the colour Of an Everyman cover and the lights in the library Would be soft as anything, and I’d sit at a table And flick through a book and fall in love With the turning of the leaves, the turning of the leaves.
And then at seven o’clock Mrs Dove would say In a voice that wasn’t too loud so it wouldn’t Disturb the books “Seven o’clock please …” And as I was the only one in the library’s late summer rooms I would be the only one to stand up and close my book And put it back on the shelf with a sound like a kiss, Back on the shelf with a sound like a kiss.
And I’d go out of the library and Mrs Dove would stand For a moment silhouetted by the Adult Fiction, And then she would turn the light off and lock the door And go to her little car and drive off into the night That was slowly turning the colour of ink and I would stand For two minutes and then I’d walk over to the dark library And just stand in front of the dark library.
‘The astronomer and poet Rebecca Elson (January 2, 1960–May 19, 1999) was twenty-nine when she was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma — a blood cancer that typically invades people in their sixties and seventies. Throughout the bodily brutality of the treatment, throughout the haunting uncertainty of life in remission, she met reality on its own terms — reality creaturely and cosmic, terms chance-dealt by impartial laws — and made of that terrifying meeting something uncommonly beautiful.
‘When she returned her atoms to the universe, not yet forty, Elson bequeathed to this world 56 scientific papers and a slender, stunning book of poetry titled A Responsibility to Awe (public library) — verses spare and sublime, drawn from a consciousness pulling the balloon string of the infinite through the loop of its own finitude, life-affirming the way only the most intimate contact with death — which means with nature — can be.’ – Maria Popova
Elson’s crowning achievement in verse is the poem “Antidotes to Fear of Death,”
ANTIDOTES TO FEAR OF DEATH by Rebecca Elson
Sometimes as an antidote To fear of death, I eat the stars.
Those nights, lying on my back, I suck them from the quenching dark Til they are all, all inside me, Pepper hot and sharp.
Sometimes, instead, I stir myself Into a universe still young, Still warm as blood:
No outer space, just space, The light of all the not yet stars Drifting like a bright mist, And all of us, and everything Already there But unconstrained by form.
And sometime it’s enough To lie down here on earth Beside our long ancestral bones:
To walk across the cobble fields Of our discarded skulls, Each like a treasure, like a chrysalis, Thinking: whatever left these husks Flew off on bright wings.
Hope you felt the positive benefits of reading these poems.