Repetitive Strain Injuries, also known as RTIs, are a form of overuse injury that can occur after prolonged and repeated use of the same movements. Over time, these repeated movements can result in inflammation and damage to the soft tissues in your body. These include muscles, nerves, and tendons.
If you have the misfortune of developing a Repetitive Strain Injury, you could experience loss of strength, weakness, pain, and burning in the affected areas. That is why it is so important to take preventive measures to reduce the risk of an RTI.
So, how do we accomplish this significant goal? It’s actually simpler than you think and will provide innumerable health benefits besides just preventing RTIs. Let’s take a look.
Correct Posture Is Everything
You’ve most likely been told to sit or stand up straight multiple times over the course of your life and that is because, as the subtitle states, correct posture is everything. Maintaining good posture keeps your bones and joints in the correct alignment to ensure proper muscle and tendon usage. It also prevents abnormal wear and tear on your joints, which is compounded when you undergo repetitive activities such as typing or operating a controller.
Over long gaming sessions, it can be easy to slip back into a back posture, so here is a quick little guide on maintaining the ideal posture:
-Feet flat on the ground.
-Knees directly over your feet with legs roughly parallel to the ground.
-Maintain the natural curves of your back. When you’re sitting correctly, you should be able to slide a hand between the seat and your lower back.
-Your shoulders should be relaxed with your hands comfortably resting on your keyboard or with the controller in your hands.
Associating quite closely with maintaining your correct posture, the way your keyboard, monitor, and seating are set up can affect the likelihood of possibly developing a repetitive strain injury. If you are using a monitor, the top of the screen should be at eye level and set back far enough that you aren’t too close to the screen but can comfortably reach every key on your keyboard.
In terms of height, the most important thing is that both of your feet can rest comfortably on the ground at all times. If your chair is too high or too low, you may experience muscle tension and pain in your spine and neck. Your seat should be tilted slightly forward if possible so that you’re resting comfortably and firmly on the ischial tuberosity also known as the sitting bones. One of the most important things to consider when adjusting your chair is to ensure that the curvature of your spine is supported. Whether you need additional lumbar support to achieve this, or if the chair follows the natural shape of your back is specific to you. But you will need back support.
Exercise and Stretches
As with basically all things in life, exercise is very important and will help you live a long, happy life. Sitting still and not moving for exceptionally long periods of time is not great for human beings. So, while it can be a hassle to break up that hot streak of wins you’re on, or to stop the grind for loot or titles or glory, it’s important to take breaks and to exercise. Go to the gym and lift some weights or jump on an exercise bike, go for a run in the sunshine. Go for a walk, you might even see a cute dog – the point is, exercise is incredibly important.
Getting a bit more specific, it’s time for some stretches. Now, as we’ve explored, RSIs can occur through the overuse of particular muscles that accompany certain movements, such as typing. Those muscles may have been contorted or locked into those same positions and need to be stretched out and reinvigorated.
Upper Torso Stretch
This may be a stretch you have performed sometime in the past. Put your hands behind your back, interlock your fingers with the palms facing up. Retract, or push your shoulders back and stretch your arms gently towards the ground. Hold that position for ten seconds, then release.
Hands and Wrists
This stretch is kind of a fun one. Put your hands together as if you were praying, palms and fingers together, pointing towards the sky. Stretch your fingers and begin to press your palms into each other, you should feel a little tension at this point. Slowly begin to move your hands down until the lower parts of your forearms (towards the elbow) are horizontal. Keep on going, maintaining the pressure of pushing your palms into each other. You should begin to feel a stretch within your fingers and hands, hold that position, slowly release and repeat.
Wrists Part 2
This is a very easy exercise to move your wrists through their full range of motion. Form your hands into soft fists, and begin by moving your wrists in small clockwise circles. Do this between five to ten times, then repeat by moving your wrists in an anti-clockwise direction.
Before you open your wrists and get back to that groundbreaking victory streak you’re on, move your wrists up and down, five times in each direction, then repeat but this time going sideways. End with five more small circles clockwise and anti-clockwise. This ensures your wrist gets a break from being stuck in the same position and can be done while sitting down. Though, it can be beneficial to walk around while you are stretching. Not only will it increase blood flow around your body and stretch out your limbs and spine, but you can also use your newfound motion to stay hydrated and call your parents. They’re worried about you.
Quite susceptible to the stresses of constant typing or keyboard use, your forearms also need to be stretched and again, can be done right at your computer in between matches or load screens. Easily done, simply hold one of your hands up, palm facing away from you with your fingers together. Use your other hand to gently pull your fingers back towards you, leading to a nice stretch in your forearm. Hold this for a few seconds, relax, pull back your fingers, relax again. Then do the same with the other hand.
Repetitive Stress Injuries can occur at any time, especially among gamers whose hands can be rapidly flying over keys or contorted around a controller, in almost stationary positions that are not healthy for prolonged periods of time.
If you develop RSI, those same movements you performed so gracefully and with ease, will become more difficult and painful, so take care of your body right now. Olympians and professional athletes have to take care of their bodies to perform at their best, the mind needs to recover after strenuous or stressful days of complex thought. You are no exception. Take care of your body so you can continue to reign victorious.
And seriously, call your parents.