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Repetitive Stress Injuries - 5 Ways to Avoid Problems

March 2015

Millions of people in the UK work in offices and, on the surface, these can seem like fairly safe jobs. After all, compared to high-risk jobs such as working in the emergency services, manufacturing or in areas where chemicals are often used, a relatively sedentary job in an office doesn’t seem like it could cause much harm.

However, repetitive stress injuries caused by working on computers is a serious problem. You can end up in serious pain – and, in the worst cases, suffer permanent disability – due to the way you sit and type at your desk.

There are quite a few things that can cause repetitive stress injuries (RSI), from not sitting correctly in your chair to the way you type on your keyboard or use the computer’s mouse. Symptoms vary from person to person, but commonly they can include numbness or pain in your hands and forearms, weakness in certain parts of your body and more. If left unchecked for any extended period, you may have to have surgery to treat your RSI.

This shows it is a serious issue: figures from the National Health Service suggest that 1 in 50 workers has reported an RSI condition. It has also been reported that almost 5.5 million working days are lost every year in the UK due to workers going off sick with RSI. This has a significant impact on worker morale, company productivity and the wider economy so it’s important to take steps to limit RSI wherever possible.

There are a number of things you can to prevent RSI causing you problems.

1. The way you sit matters. Ideally, you should be sitting in a well-supported ergonomic chair. If this isn’t an option for you, make sure you sit so that your knees are level with your hips – you might need to invest in a footrest to achieve this.

2. If you use your computer mouse a lot, a support for your wrists is a good option. A mouse wrist cushion means your hand will stay at the best angle for operating the equipment.

3. You may have seen keyboards that are split with clear definitions as to which keys to press with your left and right hands. These can take a short while to get used to, but they keep your hands in the right position. A keyboard wrist cushion is another good option – you can even get items that use ergoBeads, which have a massage function as well as providing you with vital support to keep RSI and associated problems at bay. Visit to find out more about how these cushions can help.

4. Ideally, your computer screen should be at eye level but many of us hunch over to look down on our screens, so move yours until it’s in the right position.

5. If you are suffering wrist pain, it’s likely your keyboard is currently too high for you to use properly. Installing a keyboard tray under the desk should bring it to the right height for you to use.

These simple steps should make your workplace more ergonomically appropriate and more comfortable for you to work in, helping to reduce the likelihood and costs of RSI.