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Recognize and Prevent Repetitive Stress Injuries

Repetitive stress injuries, or RSIs, can impact muscles, ligaments, tendons and nerves. Though The Mayo Clinic estimates that 3 million people in the United States are affected by such injuries, some may not fully understand just how they reached a point where they are suffering from an RSI.

RSIs are a condition that occurs when too much stress is placed on one part of the body, typically a joint, over and over again, resulting in inflammation and potential tissue damage. RSIs typically happen when a person repeats the same movements again and again. It comes as no surprise then that RSIs are commonly experienced by athletes and office workers.

The elderly are most affected by RSIs, but these types of injuries are also known to occur in younger adults and children. These injuries tend to develop over time and tend go unnoticed in their early stages.

Prevention is the best defense against RSIs. Start by using proper equipment at all times to help keep the body protected and in neutral positions. Such equipment may include support devices for wrists or knees, and shoes that fit well and provide ample support.

Athletes should make sure their gear is properly sized to their bodies. Using the wrong size tennis racket, for example, may contribute to elbow strain when serving and hitting.

Proper nutrition also is key. Consuming the right foods is essential to developing and maintaining strong muscles, which help support joints in the body. Speak with a doctor or nutritionist if you suspect your diet has room for improvement.

RSIs can be troublesome for office workers. Maintaining neutral body positioning is the best defense against pain and injury, according to the pain prevention resource Tifaq.com. Tifaq.com suggests following these procedures in addition to stretching and exercising at the office:

∫ Keep your head level, forward facing and in line with your torso.

∫ Feet should be flat on the floor or on a footrest.

∫ Shoulders can be relaxed and arms hanging normally at your sides. Your elbows should be at about 90-degree angles.

∫ Support your back with a lumbar support or a small pillow.

∫ Sit vertically or lean back slightly while at your desk.

∫ Keep frequently used items close by so you do not need to stretch.

∫ Position your monitor so it is directly in front of you and at eye level.

∫ Take frequent breaks to stretch or take a walk around the office.

Examples of RSIs include carpal tunnel syndrome, rotator cuff injuries, tendonitis and trigger finger. Always consult with a doctor if pain from routine activities is persistent. Individuals may benefit from working with a physical therapist to learn strategies to avoid RSI activities.

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