Help yourself to avoid Repetitive Strain Injury using The Alexander Technique
A study published in February 2008 shows that cases of RSI have risen from 86,000 to 115,000 last year, costing the economy £300m. Alexander Technique is an effective way to not only combat the symptoms of RSI but prevent its occurrence.
Office work is not normally considered a high-risk industry, but Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI), is often experienced by people working with computers, can be highly debilitating.
Alexander Technique (AT) is often tried as a last resort by RSI sufferers, even though the principles of AT can help prevent RSI occurring in the first place. Alexander Technique focuses on helping people use their body efficiently and effectively – preventing mis-use, over-use, strains and tension. Assessing the workstation is crucial – making sure chairs, keyboards and monitors are all at the correct height and positioning.
The way employees use their workstation is also important – good body-use habits play a huge part in preventing injury. To really make a difference you need to become aware of and learn how to change you poor postural habits and this requires some hands-on guidance from a trained Alexander teacher. But in the meantime here are some helpful tips for working on your PC:
- How you are sitting at your desk is key – you should sit well supported on the seat of the chair so that your back’s natural support mechanism can work.
- Your chair to desk height should mean your elbow is at a 90º angle, with your forearms about horizontal to the desk when using a keyboard.
- Your monitor should be at eye height so that your head is freely balanced on to top of your lengthening spine. Tilting the head back and dropping the neck forward cause tension in the neck, which often manifests itself as referred pain in the arms.
- Keep feet flat on the floor with the knees at 90º – if you can’t reach the floor sit further forward in the seat or use a foot rest. Keeping feet flat on the floor helps balance the bodyweight evenly, avoiding overuse and strain.
- There is no such thing as a correct position – vary the way you sit to suit different activities, sitting back against the back rest while reading through something and sitting up in the front when you’re in ‘full flow’.
- Take regular breaks. Even the best position can cause muscle stiffness after a time. Be sure to move about – even a short walk to the water cooler can help!
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