RSI: What you absolutely need to know
Use of a computer keyboard and/or mouse can lead to persistent muscle aches, tendon inflammation, nerve compressions, and sub–sequent impairments that in some cases may be long standing. The MIT Medical Department sees nearly 300 people a year for problems such as these caused by overuse and/or misuse of computer workstations. The musculoskeletal system is built to have periods of activity alternating with periods of rest that allow recovery and renewal. Working at a computer long hours subjects certain parts of the body to static postures while other parts move incessantly. Both static postures and constant activity can cause first microscopic and then macroscopic damage to biologic tissues. (download PDF brochure)
There are four keys to RSI Prevention: Postion, Pacing, Technique, and Exercise.
PositionAdjust yourself and your workstation to minimize the awkwardness and stress involved in keyboard activity.
- Use a telephone headset instead of cradling the phone between ear and shoulder.
- Rest feet on the floor or on a footrest, support thigh by soft chair, support lower back.
- Let upper arms hang loosely from the shoulder, extend forearms horizontally toward the keyboard, lower and angle keyboard slightly away (negative pitch) so the wrists are in a neutral position, with mouse next to the keyboard at the same level. Do not lean wrists on any surface (including wrist rest) while typing or mousing.
- Center yourself in front of a glare-free monitor; keep eyes at a comfortable dis–tance from the monitor, looking down at a 10-30 degree angle.
PacingIntroduce breaks in your typing to permit recovery and restoration, and do this at a frequency that does not allow pain or discomfort to develop. No schedule of typing and rest breaks is universal, but as a general guideline:
- Take a 1 or 2 minute "micro break" every 10 to 15 minutes;
- Take a 5 to 10 minute "mini break" every hour.
- Every few hours, get up and do some alternative activity.