A great deal of misunderstanding exists about what Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) actually is, and what really causes it for computer users. Below are 10 of the most common RSI myths and misconceptions associated with computer use.
RSI is caused by repetition.
Repetition of computer use is not the cause. Rather, the problem results from having a constrained posture and tensed muscles for long periods. Our bodies do not like sitting still, hunched over the keyboard, gripping a mouse with eyes fixed on a computer screen for hours at a time.
It is called Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI).
The term RSI is almost never used by medical experts in the field of computer ergonomics. This is because the term ‘RSI’ is misleading. Constrained posture is the issue for computer users, not “repetition”. A more appropriate and accepted term internationally is ‘Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorder (WMSD or MSD).
I do not type fast enough to get RSI
Typing speed is not the cause of discomfort. Rather, sitting still for long periods with tense muscles causes discomfort in shoulders, arms and wrists.
Wrist injury is the main problem.
A number of upper body areas are affected. Neck, shoulder, forearm and back pain along with eyestrain are the main problems. Wrist injury is relatively uncommon among computer users.
Computer use causes Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS).
The association of CTS with computer use is not proven scientifically. The problems are actually with the neck, forearms and shoulders rather than the wrists. The high prevalence of computer use-related Musculoskeletal Disorders in the upper body is well documented.
Only a few computer users get problems.
Discomfort is very common among computer users. In recent studies, more than 50% of computer users report upper body discomfort or eyestrain from using a computer. Between 10%-14% experience discomfort significant enough to interfere with their daily work.
I use the computer all day.
Most people actually use the computer LESS than they think – average computer use is currently just 2.5 hours per day. But even at this seemingly low level, discomfort problems are common.
I cannot be at risk if I use the computer just a few hours each day
The greatest risk of discomfort comes from HOW you use the computer, not from how long. However, studies do show an increased risk is present after just 2.7 hours of computer use a day!
I need to do exercises at work to prevent RSI
Regular breaks are the key to preventing RSI and discomfort. Exercises and stretches can certainly help, but taking regular breaks (and micropauses) is the most important thing you can do.
There is a perfect posture for sitting at the computer
The best posture is the one you are going to take next. Being comfortable and changing posture regularly is the key. Sitting still in one position for hours on end will cause you discomfort.