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5 Best Practices to Prevent RSI When Working from Home

23 November 2023

Remote working is on the rise more than ever before. Today, an increasing number of employees with desk jobs enjoy the freedom and flexibility of working from home. But the luxury of working from home often comes with a few costs. While most individuals working from home do not realize the cost until they start feeling undesirable effects of remote working, such as repetitive strain injury (RSI).

When you work from home, you often choose your preferred position that appears to be most comfortable for you. However, your favorite work-from-home spot, such as your couch or kitchen stool, may not always be the more ergonomic work setup which is why it is common to experience health concerns. While occasional work from home in a setup that is not ergonomically designed won't bother you but if it's an everyday practice where you have to slouch on your bed, your arms, neck, and back won't forgive you for this. Worse yet, these working-from-home setups are vulnerable to a particular kind of injury known as repetitive stress injury (RSI). RSI can cause discomfort and pain and impact your productivity and overall quality of life.

If you are working from home, you need to be aware of what physical effects your work setup can have on you, including how it can lead to repetitive stress injury. By learning about RSI and some of the best practices that can help you prevent RSI when working from home, you can make a difference in your work habits and overall quality of life.

Let's delve into what is repetitive stress injury and what are some of the best practices that can help you prevent RSI when working from home.

What is a Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI)?

As the name says, it is a type of injury resulting from repetitive motion. While the effects of RSI may appear suddenly, the condition develops over time as your body part, like your muscle, joint, or nerve, is forced into repeated motion, eventually damaging your body parts.

Several different types of RSI may result from the overuse of a specific muscle, joint, or nerve and typically fall into two categories.

Type 1 – RSI that results in the swelling of tendons and muscles and is the most common type of RSI.

Type 2 – RSI that is associated with nerve damage that results from repetitive work and related injuries.

Some of the most common types of repetitive stress injuries associated with a desk job include the following.

Tendinitis – the swelling of a tendon following an injury,

Bursitis – the inflammation of the fluid-filled sac in your knee,

Carpal tunnel syndrome – narrowing of the passageway through which the median nerve passes resulting in pain and tingling sensation in the wrist and fingers,

Rotator cuff tendonitis – the swelling of cuff tendons.

Repetitive stress injury can cause severe pain and discomfort. Hence prevention is the key to your productivity and happiness while you work from home.

Why Working from Home Can Increase Your Risk of Repetitive Stress Injury?

If you are working from home and came across this post, look at how you are sitting right now.

You would probably be sitting on your bed or couch. Maybe even on your kitchen stool while you use your countertop as your workstation. But if you are someone who has already set up a workstation at home, it would most likely be a traditional desk and an office chair.

With your existing position in mind, imagine the kind of stress your neck and back has to experience. You are placing a certain amount of strain on your neck, shoulders, back, and hips as you work on your screen or phone. This may not be a problem in the short run, but constant strain over time can take a toll on your body and negatively impact your health and productivity.

Here are some of the most common mistakes that work-from-home professionals make, resulting in repetitive stress injuries.

Slouching over the screen,

Inappropriate keyboard and mouse placement,

Working too long without taking a break and

Typing too much and too harshly.

If you had been working this way, you would have likely experienced aches and pains. While you may be able to ignore these aches and pains for some time, if left untreated, they can quickly become serious problems that adversely affect your productivity and quality of life.

Best Practices to Prevent Repetitive Stress Injury When Working from Home

Here are a few best practices for your home office that can help prevent painful conditions such as repetitive stress injury, but before we get into the actual practices, you need to take a look at your home office setup and figure out areas of improvement.

If you haven't yet set up a designated workstation for your home office, now is the time to establish a workstation that allows you to work conveniently. A typical home office workstation includes an ergonomic desk chair and a desk that provides ample space for your workplace essentials, such as your laptop and other accessories.

Once you have a designated working space, here are a few best practices to prevent repetitive stress injuries.

1. Sitting in Correct Posture

While most individuals with a desk job would know that taking care of their posture is essential, most are unaware of how to do so.

Taking care of your posture, particularly when sitting, involves investing in a comfortable chair that you can conveniently adjust to suit your needs. Invest in an ergonomic office chair and adjust it to allow you to sit upright as you work. Moreover, as you sit upright, ensure that your adjustable ergonomic office chair helps you maintain the natural curvature of the spine hence reducing sprain on your back.

You should also be able to adjust the height of your chair such that you don't have to strain your neck to reach your keyboard or other computer-related accessories, which helps prevent repetitive stress injuries.

2. Adjust Your Work-Related Accessories

Along with your chair, you should be able to adjust your work-related accessories, including your monitor and keyboard. Ensure that your keyboard is about an arm's length away from you. Moreover, your screen should be at least 20 inches away from your eyes. Furthermore, the glare and tilt of the screen should also be adjusted to reduce straining your eyes, neck, and shoulders.

While you are working at home, it is also important that you invest in a separate mouse. Constantly using your laptop's touchpad requires you to place your wrist in an awkward position, contributing to an increased risk of repetitive stress injuries.

3. Take Regular Breaks to Move Around

Whether you are working at your office or have a work-from-home arrangement, taking short breaks to move around is critical. Remember, your body is not designed to be stationary, as being in the same position for too long can be detrimental to your posture and body. Hence, you should schedule short breaks into your everyday routine, so your muscles get a chance to relax and are not constantly strained.

4. Invest in Ergonomic Office Accessories

An ergonomic office chair and a desk are deemed essential for your home office. However, there are a lot of other ergonomic office accessories that are designed to make your working experience comfortable.

From footrests to monitor stands, you can find several ergonomic accessories that help enhance your work experience at home while preventing repetitive stress injuries. One accessory that can add significant value to your home office is the Bamboo Monitor Stand MS001 by FlexiSpot. The easy-to-assemble monitor stand is made from environmentally friendly material. It allows you to raise your monitor to your eye level to relieve neck strain and help prevent repetitive stress injuries. Moreover, it leaves a lot of space on your workstation so you can work conveniently and have ample space for your other work essentials.

5. Get in Touch with a Doctor at First Signs of Strain

As soon as you experience any of the following symptoms, get in touch with your healthcare practitioner.

Stiffness in the neck,

Numbness in upper arm or fingers,

Pain and tingling sensation in your wrist or fingers, or

Any other upper body pain.

Like with several other health conditions, early diagnosis of repetitive stress injuries can help you manage discomfort and shorten recovery time, so as soon as you experience pain or any other symptoms mentioned above, schedule a doctor's appointment at the earliest.

Final Words

With these five best practices, you can prevent painful conditions such as repetitive stress injuries. Find out more about how ergonomic furniture and accessories can help you set up your home office; get in touch with FlexiSpot today.