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Tips to prevent computer-related RSI - Healthy body

RSI (repetitive strain injury) can be caused by a variety of tasks, such as forceful or repetitive activity, or by poor posture.

The condition mostly affects parts of the upper body, such as the forearm, elbow, wrist, hands, shoulders and neck.

RSI is usually associated with doing a particular activity repeatedly or for a long period of time.

Spending a lot of time using a computer, keyboard and mouse is a common cause of RSI.

How to prevent computer-related RSI

These practical tips can help reduce your risk of developing RSI and other related disorders that can arise from working with computers.

Whether you're using a computer at home or work, make sure your desk or table is properly set up and adjusted to your specifications.

Get advice on how to sit at your desk or table correctly to make sure you're sitting in the right position and your desk or table is set up the right way.

The standard keyboard and mouse are adjustable devices with settings that you can change in the same way you might adjust your office chair.

Various types of non-standard keyboards are available. They may improve the positioning of your hands.

Some people find the standard mouse uncomfortable as it involves twisting the wrist. Alternative mice and other pointing devices are worth investigating.

You could also consider speech recognition software, which allows you to control your phone or a computer application by using your voice.

If you work in an office, ask your workplace about getting a workstation assessment.

Your mouse

  • changing the settings to slow your mouse down can greatly reduce muscle tension in your hand
  • use keyboard shortcuts instead of the mouse to navigate and execute commands
  • the mouse keys feature allows you to use the arrow keys on your keyboard's number pad to move the pointer around the screen
  • download mousetool free software. It takes away the need to click on the mouse, which many people find painful. You may need to get permission from your employer to download the software

Your keyboard

  • you can adjust the keyboard's key repeat rate to avoid mistakes that you then have to go back and correct
  • use StickyKeys, a Windows function that allows you to press 1 key at a time to write capital letters and other multi-key commands to avoid having to hold a modifier key down, such as Shift, Ctrl or Alt while pressing another key
  • predictive text and autocorrect features guess what you want to type and save you unnecessary keystrokes  

Take regular breaks

Do not sit in the same position for long periods. Short, regular breaks can help prevent RSI and other upper limb disorders.

It lets the muscles relax while others take the strain. This can prevent you becoming stiff and tense.

Most office jobs provide opportunities to take a break from the screen, such as photocopying or printing. Try to make use of them.

If there are no such natural breaks in your job, your employer should plan for you to have rest breaks.

Read about why we should sit less

Page last reviewed: 19 July 2019
Next review due: 19 July 2022