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Low back pain & other RSIs

 

NOTE : YOUR LEGS ARE THERE TO TAKE THE WEIGHT OF YOUR BODY AND YOUR BACK IS THERE TO SUPPORT YOU. ITS NOT THE OTHER WAY ROUND. MOST OF THE LOW-BACK PAIN CASES ARE DUE TO MIS / LACK OF UNDERSTANDING OF ABOVE PRINCIPLE.

How serious is Low Back Pain ?

Back pain is the number one problem facing the workforce in the United States today. To illustrate just how big a problem low back pain is, consider these facts:

 

  • Low back pain is the second most common cause of missed work days
  • Low back pain is the leading cause of disability between the ages of 19-45
  • Low back pain is the number one leading impairment in occupational injuries.

It is estimated that over 80 billion dollars is spent because of back pain each year, and the cost is growing. Eight out of ten people will have a problem with back pain at some time during their lives.

This post is basically meant to give an idea of what came to be known as Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI), caused due to regular usage of computers and related peripherals with improper knowledge about the ergonomics that goes into such usage.

As a person who has suffered from Back Ache for more than three years, and successfully recovered from it, I thought I would share the “experience” I gained the hard-way. So that it might be useful to atleast a few (or all) of potential victims.

Its a well known fact that when something is over-used or improperly used, its efficiency decreases over time. Samething goes with various parts of our body. During a typical day’s work, we use various parts of our body to perform multitude of activities which give rise to varying amounts of stress / strain on them. Some strains are temporary that last only for the period when that task is being performed and go away after that. Some stay a little longer and disappear after relaxing for few minutes. Some are painful, which need pain-killers (I personally dont prefer their usage unless absolutely essential, if you are suffering from any such pain go consult doctor immediately). And some are minor but occur periodically or regularly. We are speaking about the last category of injuries that are caused by unchecked, repetitive subjection of strain to various parts of body, especially related to computer related jobs.

I have seen that most of the people working in this field are either unaware of these RSIs, or are not bothered to note the early signs of such injuries. A majority of them being freshers, just out of college, they dont feel the need to take these things seriously, as there is enough strength in their muscles, tendons, joints, and spine that can take such strain without complaining. But sadly, but truly, nothing lasts forever; most importantly the health of mis-used body lasts even less.

This post is a small step to increase the awareness of various issues related to RSIs and in general the ergonomics of workplace. There is wealth of literature available on Net on these topics. So instead of repeating the same here, I’ll just list the resources. Do make time to read / understand / implement them.

http://www.will-harris.com/yoga/rsi.html : this site explains the need for regular “proper” breaks at workplace. It also gives a list of exercises one can regularly do. Each of these exercises is illustrated with the help of animations supported with excellent documentation.

http://www.orthogate.org/patient-education/lumbar-spine/low-back-pain.html : This site gives thorough intro to Low Back pain, its causes / symptoms / preventive measures etc. According a recent survey more than 70% of lost working days, due to health reasons, can be traced to Low Back Pain. This is the single most disease / injury that affects every single person working at a desk if proper measures are not taken and at appropriate time.

http://www.medinfo.co.uk/conditions/lowbackpain.html : Good, short, informative site on Low Back Pain.

http://www.office-ergo.com/ : Comprehensive research-based information about prevention of carpal tunnel syndrome, low back pain and eyestrain in the office environment.

The following have proved extremely effective for me, personally, in my fight / victory against RSI and Low Back Pain :

1. Regular Exercise (atleast for half-an-hour daily) to strengthen low back, hands, legs, neck, shoulders, fingers so that they gain enough strength to take-in stresses and strains of a busy work-day ahead.

2. Regular breaks. Dont sit for more than 45 minutes at a stretch in front of your PC. Take a break. Walk around for a couple of minutes before you resume your work.
( the way I do this is by going to fetch my glass of water from cafeteria every one hour or so. I personally discourage usage of big bottles which will rob you of this healthy opportunity. Dont say, its a waste of time. See the NOTE below ).

3. Dont neglect the early signs. or postpone from seeking medical advice early-on. Remember, each day you postpone will mercilessly cut-off an year from your productive professional life !!

NOTE : General complaint is that one does not get “enough” time for all these things. But let me warn you, if you dont do it now you will have “ample” time later (read sooner) where you need not do anything :-).

HAPPY BACKS, DANCING (not dangling 🙂 FINGERS, FLEXIBLE NECKS, STABLE SHOULDERS AND STRONG LEGS.

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