The widespread adoption of technology in our everyday lives has had numerous benefits on businesses and individuals alike.
However, while technology has the potential to make us more productive than ever before – when we’re not scrolling through Facebook, at least – it can negatively impact on our health.
From giving people eye strain to increasing the chances of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), spending too much time using digital devices can cause unnecessary pain and even shorten our lifespans.
One of the most common tech-related health issues is repetitive strain injury. And unfortunately, many people are unaware of the risks until they start to feel its impact. Often, due to the need to carry on working and a fear of losing their job, many people try to ignore the problem. Frustratingly, this can exasperate symptoms and make the issue worse.
What causes repetitive strain injury in the hands, wrists and fingers?
Repetitive strain injury is usually caused by doing a particular activity repeatedly or for a long period of time. If the same muscles are used in a repetitive motion, damage can be caused.
Spending a large portion of your time using a computer, whether you’re typing, using a mouse, or both, can cause damage to the hand, fingers and wrist. The repetitive motion of texting can place strain on your fingers and thumbs. Even scrolling through social media sites can lead to repetitive strain injury.
What can people do to prevent RSI from using digital devices?
Take regular breaks
It’s widely recommended that you take a five minute break after every 20 to 30 minutes of continuous activity. So after typing for this period of time, give your hands, wrists and fingers a rest. If you find it hard to remember to take frequent breaks, use a tool such as TomatoTimer.
Maintain good posture
Your posture might not seem relevant to the health of your hands, wrists and fingers, but in reality it can have a significant impact.
Slouching at your desk or using a laptop when you’re slumped on the sofa can be huge risk factors when it comes to repetitive strain injury. Sit up straight and, if necessary, adjust your display so that your monitor is directly in front of you. The top of your screen should be at eye level, unless you wear bifocal lenses.
Dictation apps can take some getting used to and they might be unsuitable for the traditional office environment, but they can help you drastically reduce the amount of time you spend typing. Your computer should automatically have some dictation options as part of its accessibility features, but you may prefer specialist apps.
Talk to your employer
If you’re suffering from RSI as a result of your job, talking to your employer may seem daunting. But the sooner you address the issue, the better. By looking for ways to change your routine and reduce the frequency in which your hands have to repeat the same actions over and over again, you can prevent more damage being done.
The longer you ignore the problem, the worse things could get. Ignoring the issue for a prolonged period of time could see the pain getting so bad that you have no choice but to stop performing the damaging motion completely.