Fit and fine: Why are young people complaining of nagging pains and aches today...

...Because sitting at badly-designed workstations for long hours is causing Repetitive Strain Injury

Updated: Sep 10, 2018 21:52:52

By Kamal Singh, CSCS

Repetitive Strain Injury is caused by improperly-designed workstations, incorrect posture and inadequate fitness (Shutterstock)

So you finish college and are lucky to land a job in a call center. In no time you are spending hours working on your computer, tied to your desk. Soon you start to notice stiffness and slight pain in one side of your neck, then your upper back/shoulder blade area starts to ache and finally you have tingling pain down your arm!

You say to yourself: ‘I am a young guy, how can I have these aches and pains?’ But, what you are experiencing is not unique or unusual. It’s called the Mouse Neck/ Shoulder and is also known as the Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI).

Repetitive Strain Injury or repetitive motion injury is mostly a work-related musculoskeletal disorder. It can affect muscles, tendons, joints and nerves. Generally, RSI is caused by improperly-designed workstations, incorrect posture and inadequate fitness.

Repetitive injury results in repeated tissue micro-trauma, which disrupts the normal repair process, leading to reduced blood supply, reduced activity of nerves, muscle fiber loss and even cell death. Some individuals with RSI have severe pain, others just lose strength and fine muscle control.

How a niggle becomes a literal pain in the neck!

Hours of sitting and working on badly-designed workstations, then spending leisure time peering at a mobile screen and finally sleeping on a misshapen pillow often results in a stiff neck and/or a mild headache. If ignored, this can get worse and disrupt everyday activities. Soon you will be popping painkillers to get through the day, but the pain will seem to only get worse over time.

Finding the cause

Ensure that your computer screen should be at eye level ( Illustration : Sunil Kumar Mallik )

Look at your workstation. Is the computer screen at eye-level? Is your wrist bent backwards while using the mouse? Does your desk make you shrug your shoulders up? While typing, do your elbows hang free? If your answer is yes to these questions, then it’s time to make changes to your workstation.

Here’s a workstation checklist to keep RSI at bay:

1.The computer screen should be at eye-level.

2.Your wrist should be straight.

3.Your shoulders should not be shrugged up while sitting.

4.And finally, the chair should support the elbows.

The cure: stretch and strengthen

Do these neck stretches 10 times each ( Illustration : Sunil Kumar Mallik )

1.Stretch your neck by touching your chin to the chest and then look straight up at the ceiling. Turn your head left and then right. Do these stretches 10 times each.

2.Get up from your desk every half an hour, walk a few steps.

3.Strengthen your neck by pushing it backwards towards your chin with your fingers in such a way as to form a double chin. Hold this position for 10 seconds. Do this three to four times in a day.

Chin tuck exercises also helps relieve pain ( Illustration : Sunil Kumar Mallik )

In the next column we’ll look at the upper-back pain. Till then, take good care of your neck!

Author bio: Kamal Singh CSCS is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist with a coaching experience of 15 years. He specialises in post rehabilitation training and has worked with some of the biggest names in the corporate and sports world. Kamal was picked by Men’s Health magazine as one of India’s Top personal trainers.

This is a fortnightly column. The next edition will appear on September 23.

From HT Brunch, September 10, 2018

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First Published: Sep 10, 2018 21:52:52


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