Preventing Repetitive Strain Injuries
Ashley Jowett
/ Categories: WELLNESS, 2022

Preventing Repetitive Strain Injuries

Any motion we make repeatedly over many hours—from splitting wood to feeding fabric through a sewing machine—has the potential to cause physical harm under certain circumstances. During Occupational Therapy Month, occupational therapists at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center are joining with the American Society of Hand Therapists to share tips that may help you avoid repetitive strain injuries and the pain and reduced productivity they cause.

Check your tools. If you feel the need to modify your tools, by adding padding or making some other changes, it is likely time to take a close look at your tools themselves. Is the tool to heavy for your body size, for instance? Investing in the right tool for you is worth the health expense it will save.

Search online for reputable warm-ups and advice about proper body mechanics for the activity you are doing. Online tutorials from either professionals in the field or physical and occupational therapists can help teach you the proper way to do an activity, which also decreases the risk of injury.

Take breaks. A 30-second stretch for every 30 minutes of activity can really help lessen fatigue and the risk for injury when performing repetitive activities. Stretch muscles in the opposite direction from your working pattern.

Break up your day. If possible, alternate stretches of the repetitive activity or activities with tasks that require other motions.

See a doctor. Even small injuries can compound over time. If you injure yourself in the area from your hand to your shoulder, be sure you see a medical doctor who specializes in this area to get proper treatment. These injuries can become a serious long-term disability, if neglected.

Each of these tips requires a small investment in time or effort up front but offers tremendous benefits in terms of avoiding potentially debilitating injuries for yourself or those who work for you.

Michaelia St. Jacques, MS, OTR/L, CWCE, CHT is an occupational therapist and certified hand therapist at SVMC Outpatient Therapy, part of Southwestern Vermont Medical Center and Southwestern Vermont Health Care in Bennington.

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