IF you’re chained to a desk all week, you risk joining the half a million people in the UK who suffer from RSI. That’s how many office workers the TUC says has endured those aches, pains, stiffness or cramps in the hands, arms, back and shoulders.
Repetitive strain injuries — to give them their full name — are caused by repeated movements that place tendons under stress. With yesterday’s RSI Awareness Day held to highlight the risks, here’s some tech to help protect those tendons.
Vertical mice like Logitech’s MX Vertical (£92.99, logitech.com) complement the natural resting position of your hands. It reduces muscle strain, decreases wrist pressure and improves posture.
The right keyboard is key: Microsoft’s Bluetooth-enabled Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard (£99.99, microsoft.com) has a split shape and curved surface that allows wrists and forearms to be held in a more natural position, while voice-recognition software like Nuance Dragon Professional Individual v15 (from £279.99, nuance.com) allows you to control your computer without having to tap a single key stroke, which is as safe as you can get.
‘Don’t slouch’ is something we’ve all heard from our parents. Maintaining a poor posture can lead to tension in the shoulders, stiffness in the neck and upper and lower back pain.
Rather than sitting down all day, try the portable, planet-friendly Deskmate Tabletop Stand-Up Desk (from £32.99, deskmate.co). It’s made from industrial-strength cardboard, pops up in seconds and converts any workstation into a standing desk.
Upright Go (£69.99, amazon.co.uk) is like having an app-controlled guardian angel on your shoulder. It’s a flat, plastic device about the size of a playing card you stick at the top of your spine that emits a gentle vibration when you’re off-key. Fitbit’s Charge 3 (from £129.99, fitbit.com), meanwhile, prompts you to take a short break when you’ve been inactive for too long.
If you’re already suffering, Lloyds Pharmacy’s Tens Digital Pain Reliever (£12.29, lloydspharmacy.com) eases back, shoulder and neck pain by delivering small electrical pulses to the body via electrodes placed on the skin that stimulate pain-relieving endorphins.
The only better option is to give up work. But how are you going to afford that two-week holiday to Montenegro if you do that?
Avoid working too long without moving and take regular breaks. Set your smartphone with regular reminders to move. There are lots of apps to assist with this, like Stand Up. Stress and tension can massively affect pain levels: when you’re stressed or busy, this can increase muscle tension, and affect movement and symptoms, so do your best to relax.
When you’re not working, keep your palms facing forward. This helps to have better alignment in the wrist and hand, and relieves muscle tension. Limit the amount of time you spend doing emails on your phone — it’s not ideal for ergonomics.