How I Beat RSI

Hopefully my story helps and inspires you in some way; I know that when I had RSI, I was desperately searching for positive stories of people who had really experienced severe RSI, and overcame it.  I didn’t find too many on the Internet, so for me this will fill that gap.  Firstly, what is RSI?  It stands for repetitive stress injury, or repetitive strain injury.  It’s basically a very broad umbrella term, which describes many conditions; really, looking at pain in the upper limbs, the neck, and the hands.  Generally the pain is described as burning, tingling, numbness, or weakness.

Why does RSI happen?  Their different schools of thought about this, but generally speaking, RSI is sort of an occupational overuse injury.  The muscles get overloaded by repetitive stress, and when muscles are overloaded they develop scar tissue because they’re injured.  The scar tissue can interfere with the nerves, which causes the nerve pain that I was describing earlier.  Who can get RSI?  Anyone.  We’ve seen RSI really jump up in the 20th century, largely as a result of an increasingly sedentary lifestyle, because of computers and video games and television and so on.  Coupled with generally poorly-prescribed physiotherapy exercises and programs that don’t really focus on the core conditioning.  There are certain types of people who are predisposed to RSI, so you’d be looking at musicians, data entry workers, people who spend large amounts of time on a computer; call center workers, factory workers, people on processing lines, doing highly mechanized, highly repetitive activities.

How is it treated?  I get this a lot, how do I get over my RSI.  It’s treated in a lot of different ways.  I guess my story is sort of a holistic approach on recovery from RSI, in that first and foremost, I had to acknowledge that my General Life patterns and the way I manage stress, and how I can better manage stress.  Often, RSI conditions are about the management of stress.  It’s treated by physiotherapy, by chiropractic, by massage therapy – there are so many different ways to treat it, and often people get frustrated about not knowing where to go for treatment.  Should they see a doctor, should they see a physio, should they see a chiropractor, should they stretch, should they do exercise, and so on and so forth.

I think the best rule of thumb to really become comfortable with getting some type of program in is to find a good physiotherapist with an excellent understanding of muscle movement.  That really was the key for me; I have many failed interventions, I saw rehabilitation doctors, acupuncturists, massage therapies, and it was all two steps forward and one step back, and sometimes two steps back.  I really needed some type of cohesive program that looked at really reconditioning my body.  A lot of people with RSI have extremely weak deep postural muscles and their back, they become incredibly weak and generally they’re hunched over, their shoulders and their head and neck forward like that, typing away.  Because of that posture, it puts a lot of stress on these other muscles, which weren’t designed to support the body, and they eventually start to get overloaded, and then RSI really sets in.  So, it’s really looking at postural correction and rehabilitation.  There’s also another component, which is a psychological component, which is extremely important.



Comments

How I Beat RSI — 21 Comments

  1. [..YouTube..] A very informative video, I’ve been getting incredibly irritated by the number of people who are simply not aware of any form of RSI other tan carpal tunnel,as I suffer tendinitis myself. Anyhow, I’m looking forward to part two. 🙂

  2. A very informative video, I’ve been getting incredibly irritated by the number of people who are simply not aware of any form of RSI other tan carpal tunnel,as I suffer tendinitis myself. Anyhow, I’m looking forward to part two. 🙂

  3. [..YouTube..] My mouse clicking finger is completely shot. I’m a cartographer and I’m constantly clicking and dragging maps all day, every day.

    I’d describe it as a very numb pain that causes a feeling of weakness in the finger.

    The most annoying thing is that none of my co-workers suffer from it so they think I’m being a pussy.

  4. My mouse clicking finger is completely shot. I’m a cartographer and I’m constantly clicking and dragging maps all day, every day.

    I’d describe it as a very numb pain that causes a feeling of weakness in the finger.

    The most annoying thing is that none of my co-workers suffer from it so they think I’m being a pussy.

  5. I’m so glad you’re sharing your experience to give RSI sufferers hope. It is still so misunderstood by professionals and people in general, and can make the sufferer feel alone. The psychology has a massive part to play. For me it was researching then practicing mindfulness meditations (or to be honest the benefit started just reading a book about it and becoming aware of how tight and tense my upper limb muscules were. The pain finally begun to ease…for longer). Clearly people who are conciencious, workaholics are the last people who will want to give themselves the rest their body needs….we are our own worst enemy in that respect. But with educating ourselves, self exploration as you say we can come through the other end. I can only imagine that in another 3 years of my own recovery it can only get better now as I understand that being a hard worker can be dangerous. Actually until very recently reading a book about Developing Mental Toughness I had thought of myself as a victim of…well self harming, because RSI is achieved through self distruction it doen’t one day hit us out of thin air. The Mental Thoughness book talks about how people who have that ‘winner’ mentality, high achievers, resiliant people…in one sense we are to be admired but in another it’s our strengths that can hurt us most. So a resilient person will be able to cope better out of their comfort zone (whether it’s in a new environment or going for job interviews, meeting new people, or competing in athletics…etc). Our mental resilience means we put up with discomfort and don’t let it get to us. So what do you think happens when this turns into muscule overuse, we are more likely to ignore and keep focussing on the task at hand or the goal ahead. This made me feel a bit more positive about my tendencies, not as a victim of self harm due to stress or anxiety, but as a mentally strong person overstepping the line. I imagine it’s actually a bit of both, we are human beings, complicated things!

  6. Hi,
    Have you never heard of TMS/ THE MIND BODY SYNDROME? RSI’s do not exist in my opinion and many others out there know this too. This is why people often do not get better when they rest or treat their body physically. Repetive movements should never cause pain, we cannot be so fragile! If so we would be extinct long ago. Activity merely acts as a trigger. The brain will try to distract you from deep emotions you are not aware of conciously, it’s just the way we’re made. Please look into it.

  7. TMS can be a cause but when you develop a ganglion cyst in your wrist from typing, like I did, I am pretty confident TMS did not cause that. So saying that RSI is on our head is pretty offensive. I’m sure stress and emotional issues can make it worse but there is definitely a physical mechanism as well.

  8. Thanks so much for your videos. I’m grateful for your help and am glad you’ve recovered from RSI. I’m praying for you.

  9. I got my rsi from working in car detailing. I’ve lost atleast 50% of
    strength in my left shoulder and arm, this for a long time has caused me a
    lot of stress and depression! But I’ve recently decided that I’m not going
    to let it rule my life, and that I’m going to condition the rest if my body
    to be the strongest it’s ever been!

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