Repetitive Strain Injury

If you have read my About page, you will know that I started Pilates due to RSI. Here are my notes on the subject with recommendations on things that you can do if you suffer from it.

The bad news is that there’s no cure for RSI. The good news is that you can manage the pain, but you have to be prepared to change the behaviours that bring on the symptoms.

I have found Pilates exercises to be extremely helpful to stretch and strengthen neck and shoulder muscles and to improve core stability and therefore posture.

The other sorts of things that you can do are:

  • STOP doing whatever it is that is causing the problem, but if this isn’t possible then…
  • take frequent breaks throughout the day, get up and walk around
  • every 10-20 minutes stop work sit up straight and stretch (you can use a timer to remind you to do this, or select a trigger event, e.g. each time you put down the phone)
  • if you can, vary the type of work you do throughout the day to avoid long sessions of immobility, e.g. sitting at a keyboard for hours at a time
  • see your GP, he/she can prescribe pain relieving drugs, refer you to a physio (be prepared for a long wait on the NHS) and sign you off for sick leave if it’s all got too much
  • if you have private medical insurance, check whether RSI is covered and if so, ask to go straight to a physio
  • if you are using a computer, look for specialised equipment, I use a tablet & pen instead of a mouse, some people find split keyboards help, you can also get voice recognition software to reduce the amount of typing that you do, but it takes some effort to train it to recognise your voice, also see
  • your workstation should be set up correctly so have your health & safety rep. check, or see this Correct_Workstation Set-up sheet
  • using a laptap for any length of time can be uncomfortable, I use a docking station to plug mine into a full size screen, keyboard, etc.
  • my tablet and smartphone also bring on my symptoms, so I use a stylus
  • if the problem has come about through your work, the disabilities discrimination act requires your employers to pay all reasonable costs of any specialist equipment that you need
  • have regular massage, not aromatherapy, which is too gentle but sports massage that gets right into overtight muscles
  • surgery is an option, but I suggest that this is the very last resort, I would personally avoid it if at all possible
  • I found the following book excellent: ‘Coping Successfully with RSI‘ by Maggie Black & Penny Gray
  • You can find out more from RSI Action …the national Repetitive Strain Injury charity