RSI/frozen shoulder/tendonitis…whatever

Question: Due to other impacts on my body, I’ve “had the opportunity” to learn about ‘all sorts’ of “itis’s” Iti? Tendonitis is a fancy way of saying “something negatively affecting a tendon.” Just like “dermatitis” means you have a skin problem… In that you have tendons in your shoulder, you can have “something negatively affecting” those tendons. BTW, tendons are the link between bones and muscle. Anyway, for help in improving posture, I really recommend Alexander Technique. As one who’s survived & surpassed survival (taught a “stroke”—a cerebral hemorrhage in a 23-year-old brain–crippled body to run 10K road races…), I’ve made a study of “body work.” It all comes down to awareness. If you’re sitting at your computer and looking down at your monitor then you’re going to slouch in order to bring your eyes to the monitor’s level. Slouching is going to put strain on your back, your neck–and your shoulder. If you’re suffering from “frozen shoulder, tendonitis, or RSI something about your work area is causing you to put unnecessary strain on your body. Alexander will help you to “organize” your body effectively, but *you* need to arrange your workspace to work with the body you have.

Comment 1: Underbidding (both in terms of time and money) will force one to push, and the pushing can cause one to tense–tightening muscles in the shoulder, the elbow, the forearm, the wrist–all potentially causing pain and long-term problems. In pursuing “repair” or more properly, in figuring out how to get use from my “stroke”-paralyzed body, I came upon the Feldonkrais Method, the primary tenant being, “If you know what you want to do, you can do what you want.” In my experience–“listening to your body” and deciphering what it is that’s preventing you at the moment from accomplishing what you want will provide you with the keys. For examples Thinking what if often helps:

  • What if I placed the monitor on a shelf so that I’d be looking straight at it instead of curling my neck and slumping…
  • What if I placed a thin pad, try 2″, then if that’s too thin 3′, 4″… under my forearm so it’s not soly suspended in air between my shoulder and the fingertips playing the keyboard…
  • What if, instead of flat on the floor in front of me, I curled my legs back, resting my toes on the pedestal under my swivel chair, rocking my pelvis forward and reverting the slump in my back…

This kind of thing is at the core of creative thinking–but it’s not new. Every night, in our sleep we shift positions seeking the most comfortable one… I’m not talking buzzers and whistles. What I am talking about is in listening to the signals, responding and making the reality work for you.

Comment 2: I have to say to you YES…BUT I’m a Safety Officer trying to deal with this problem with many members of staff in very many different areas and types of work. While it is very important to get the working area RIGHT this is only part of the problem, in my opinion. You make it clear that you have achieved a very high level of understanding of your own body. This may well mean that you have trained out many of the “stress posture” and “stress tensing” we normal mortals are so prone to. I suspect these and other factors are in fact very much more important than the work station design but the work station design is easy to define and do something about while the other things .. aren’t. Worst of all, it has become a belief that workers must be on short term contracts and therefore suffer extreme stress in their job. It is noticeable that this is a good indicator of whether problems are going to occur. Someone who has to finish a job in a silly time (because the contract would go to someone else if they didn’t quote too little time for the job) and knows that there is no guarantee of any employment after this contract is finished ESPECIALLY if it is not completed on time is a dead cert for problems, whether these are RSI or nervous breakdown, (they are equally unpleasant). With my other hat on I work with people using radiation.

Here we often find there are workers who have to be steered away from the work because they are petrified (totally unreasonably in fact). This leads to such huge stress levels that they become a danger to themselves and often others too. I suppose that my position in this is that I see RSI as merely one of many results of the excessive levels of stress in our society today. I regret that it is taken in isolation as if it were a completely separate problem. Employers are wasting vast sums of money by operating in a high stress environment and damaging and destroying their best employees (it’s usually the keenest who suffer the worst), instead of genuinely analysing the situation and then looking to find the most cost effective way of operating (by not burning staff out).

Comment 3: I couldn’t agree more about the importance of this contact with others. I was not trying to say that RSI discussion groups ought to stop/cease to exist. Far from it. I just worry that the “In” stress problem gets all the press and limelight and others get forgotten. Perhaps we need an E-mail group for all stress induced disease sufferers to meet and compare notes?

Comment 4: Absolutely. But the fact still remains that after all the right things have been done people still get RSI. The point I was trying to get at is also that to understand body signals requires a significant learning process. A simple example: My wife is Danish and talked me into buying a pair of clogs the first time we went to Denmark together. She asked me “How do they feel”? I had no idea how they SHOULD feel and ended buying a pair with far too little room for my arch. It took ages for them to stretch to fit me properly but next time I bought the right size! When you know how your body should feel it’s not too difficult to pick the right positions etc. Many of us don’t know and choose the wrong positions in the fond belief that they are right. You’ve clearly had to learn how your body should feel and can go much further in using this. The problem is that you are a bit of an exception.

Comment 5: RSI comes from stressing the body and mind. It doesn’t even have to be contract work – in the public (poms read civil) service we are losing people left right and centre and have the same if not more work to do, with more pressure for a quick turnaround. Actually I’ve had both and the nervous breakdown was worse than the RSI. Mind you RSI itself can lead to depression and breakdown. I suppose that my position in this is that I see RSI as merely one of many results of the excessive levels of stress in our society today. I regret that it is taken in isolation as if it were a completely separate problem. Employers are wasting vast sums of money by operating in a high stress environment and damaging and destroying their best employees (it’s usually the keenest who suffer the worst), instead of genuinely analysing the situation and then looking to find the most cost effective way of operating (by not burning staff out). Having contact with other people with RSI helps on a personal level. I think pushing in the workplace for humane treatment of all will help stop the ranks of our ‘club’ from swelling.


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