5) An Optimum Functioning Work Station: Your work area is an important factor in how to prevent RSI and other injuries. First starting with a chair that has good back support or with a solid enough back that will allow you to use a lower back support roll.
Your chair should be high enough that you do not put undue stress on your shoulders and low enough so that you do not need to bend over your work to get close enough. You should have proper lighting with magnification (if necessary) again, so you do not find yourself hovering uncomfortably over your work.
6) Control What You Can: You may not have control over how many earrings you need to complete for that upcoming show, but you can have control over the planning.
How to prevent RSI and other hand injuries by proper scheduling may seem rather simple, but it will keep you from over exerting yourself. Leaving yourself a little free time before a show would be preferable to cramming production into the last two days.
The first time I had a problem with my hands was about 20 years ago when I was working furiously on some hand sculpted roses. I still remember that I was using black polymer clay and that the clay was not as soft as the other colors. I was working non stop and I felt a twinge in my hands that made me think "uh oh." That one experience was the beginning of a long painful process.
Another thing that you can control is your home environment. When you rely upon your hands for a living you really want to make everything else that you do with your hands as effortless as possible. I learned this from an occupational therapist that I went to see many years ago and it is valuable advice.
For example: If your kids drink pop, ideally it would be best to stop giving them pop, but...that's another story. Sometimes pop bottles can be really hard on the hands to open. I have practically destroyed my hands opening gingerale when the plastic cap is on too tight.
You can buy a handy little gadget that has a recessed rigged area that will help you open the plastic caps quite nicely without destroying your hands. This simple little gadget can help prevent hand injuries.
Another example is perhaps how your dishes are stacked. If the bowls are on top of the plates and every time you need a plate you have to lift a stack of bowls you are potentially causing undue stress on your hands and wrists.
If you must do a lot of writing you can buy little foam grips for pens to make writing less taxing on your hands.
All these things take some awareness, but it is well worthwhile to assess your home and work space for areas that challenge your hands more than they need to be challenged.
If you where a runway model you would incorporate diet, exercise and perhaps aesthetic treatments to sustain your livelihood. In the same way you must take care of your hands so that they can take care of you.
7) Use the Proper Tools: How to prevent RSI and other injuries with the use of tools with good ergonomic design makes logical sense as your tools are really like an extension of your hands. If those tools cause your hands to twist in unnatural ways or require to much pressure you will soon weaken the tendons.
Don't hang onto a frustrating pair of cutters that you have had for years because you are used to them. Replace them with some quality German side cutters that feel as though they are cutting through butter. Every time you use a tool that is difficult you are putting your hands and wrists at risk.
8) Alternating Tasks: Although it makes good sense production wise to do all your cementing at once, then all soldering, then all your assembly work you may want to consider alternating some tasks that are more challenging on your hands, arms, neck or back.
Spend shorter times on those tasks and work them in between other projects. That way you will not repeat the same
repetitive movements that cause hand or wrist fatigue.
9) Be Present: Although this tip is near the bottom of the list it is absolutely vital in learning how to prevent RSI as well as carpal tunnel and tendinitis. Our bodies are smart and they give us all sorts of warning signals before DIS-EASE settles in. That's right dis...ease.
By learning to be present and knowing when your body does not feel at ease you can stop...take breaks...change position
...use a different tool....re-assess. Sometimes it will be a sore neck or a little stress near the inside bone of your wrist. By paying close attention to your body you can catch these gentle warnings before your hand starts to tingle or feel numb.
10) Apply Ice: At the onset of any issue with your hands it is always best to apply ice and not heat as heat can do damage with a new injury. Immediate icing is the best way how to prevent RSI and injuries from taking hold. If you feel pain or strain you can apply ice at ten minute intervals. No more than ten minutes on and do it especially at the end of the work day.
Those are my tips on how to prevent RSI and related injuries. If you have reached this page and you already have RSI, carpal tunnel syndrome or tendinitis then you need to read the following on
treatment for carpal tunnel, tendinitis and RSI. Now...I must take a break from all this writing...my neck is killing me!
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