7 Ways to Prevent Repetitive Stress Injuries

7 Ways to Prevent Repetitive Stress Injuries

Repetitive stress injuries (RSIs), also referred to as repetitive motion injuries, are injuries to the bones, nerves, tendons, or muscles that develop as a result of overuse. From carpal tunnel syndrome to tennis elbow, these injuries can be extremely painful and can prevent individuals from being able to work, resulting in countless hours of lost productivity. Fortunately, many repetitive stress injuries can be prevented by adhering to certain key tips.

  1. Take regular breaks: By far the easiest and most effective way to prevent repetitive motion injuries is to make sure to take frequent breaks. The more time you take to rest from performing a repetitive motion, the more time your body will have to repair itself.
  2. Type in a neutral position: If your occupation requires you to type, keep your wrists elevated and off the surface of your desk or keyboard. The tips of your fingers should be the only part of your hand touching the keyboard. Sitting up straight will make it easier to maintain a neutral typing position.
  3. Stretch frequently: Pay attention to the muscles you habitually work and be sure to take the time to stretch every now and then. Roll your arms, shoulders, wrists, and neck periodically. Stretches which involve unrolling a clenched fist can be particularly helpful to protect against carpal tunnel.
  4. Diet and exercise: In addition to being mindful of the motions you make, taking care of your body by eating right and engaging in regular exercise can reduce your susceptibility to injury increase your body’s ability to heal itself against repetitive stress.
  5. Use the proper equipment: Work equipment that is not the correct size can force your body into unnatural and dangerous positions, skyrocketing your chances of injury. Using properly fitting and ergonomic equipment can minimize this stress and allow you to accomplish your work in a position that is comfortable.

How to Prevent Repetitive Stress Injuries for Musicians

Playing music can be beautiful and may seem effortless, but for the musician, it includes hundreds of hours of practice, dedication, and hard work. While an injury to a violin player may not look as dramatic as an injury to a football player, it can be equally as severe. For example, pianists require the dexterous use of their fingers to play intricate melodies. The human hand typically has 29 major joints, 123 named ligaments, 34 muscles that move the fingers and thumb, 48 named nerves, and 30 named arteries.

If any or all of these are injured, the player can no longer practice.

Studies have shown musicians are also particularly vulnerable to repetitive stress injuries (RSI), or injuries caused by repetitive movements that irritate and damage muscles, nerves, or tendons. Around 50% to 80% of musicians will experience physical problems at some point. They usually maintain a certain position while performing skilled, rapid, and repetitive movements for extended periods of time.

What Could Contribute to RSI for Musicians?

Other risks could increase their chance of injury, including playing in cold temperatures, incorrect positioning of the instrument, excessive force, inadequate rest, and poor posture. These factors can cause stress on muscles, tendons, and surrounding soft tissue.

How Can a Musician Avoid RSI?

There are ways for music players to avoid sustaining an RSI.

  • If you intersperse long periods of practice or performance with sessions of gentle stretching or range of motion exercises, the movement can enhance blood flow to the extremities and prevent your limbs and fingers from becoming fatigued. Likewise, the movement will also lubricate the joints with synovial fluid, the viscous material found in the cavities of joints that prevents friction between cartilage.
  • Strength and endurance training can also help a musician hold proper form throughout a performance or practice.
  • Additionally, drinking lots of water, avoiding caffeine and nicotine, and having a healthy diet can also contribute to your body’s overall health.
  • If possible, get an ergonomically adjusted instrument that will help you adapt to improved body alignment and avoid unnecessary stress on your body.
  • Warm-up exercises and stretching may also help.

Occasionally, however, musicians might need physical or massage therapy to help them return to work. Physical therapy helps improve range of motion and increases strength. If you think you might need physical therapy, don’t hesitate to call us.

What About Repetitive Stress Injuries for Those Working in the Kitchen?

For people like chefs, cooks, and other kitchen workers, RSIs are relatively common after slicing, dicing, tossing, and cutting the same meals repeatedly over the course of a workday. The easiest way to prevent an RSI is to be aware of how they happen and how various motions affect your body.

What Can a Chef Do to Prevent RSI?

Early detection of musculoskeletal injuries has a positive impact on reducing the number of such injuries. Also, having an awareness that you’re repeating a motion over and over, and taking a break from it once in a while, can go a long way to keeping your muscles and tendons happy.

For example, repetitive motion for upper arms, forearms, elbows, and wrists is considered doing more than 10 reps per minute. For shoulders, doing more than 2.5 reps per minutes is considered repetitive motion. In order to prevent injury, minimize any repetitive motion wherever possible. Likewise, integrate mechanical or automated devices into your cooking, such as electric mixers and food processors.

Share the Workload

If you have other workers who do similar jobs, alternate working positions to avoid overusing any single muscle or muscle group. If you’re right handed, try stirring with your left hand for a while. If you need to work for extended periods, stretch and take small breaks often.

Suffering from an RSI? Call ProFysio Physical Therapy

If you or a loved one are suffering from a repetitive stress injury, you may be able to achieve relief from your discomfort and avoid surgery by adhering to a custom-tailored physical therapy regimen with the assistance of our knowledgeable Aberdeen physical therapists. Having helped countless patients throughout New Jersey, our skilled doctors can help minimize your pain and restore your quality of life.

Call (732) 333-6360 today to schedule your free consultation!

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