Repetitive stress disorders (RSDs) are conditions caused by the continuous and repetitive use of muscles, tendons, ligaments, joints and nerves. They can occur in nearly every area of the body, but the most common areas are the wrist (Carpal Tunnel Syndrome), neck and low back. The symptoms of tightness, stiffness, numbness, pain or discomfort, tingling or loss of strength and stability are due to an inflammatory breakdown of that particular body part. RSDs will develop over long periods of time and are chronic in nature. This is why it is necessary to get up and move often throughout the day and to incorporate a regular stretching program which will relax and release accumulated stress and tension.
Common causes can occur from over-activity involving constant repetitiveness, lifting heavy loads or improper body mechanics. How you sit, stand, grip, lift, carry, type, sew, repair, pull, push, assemble, or play a sport has an inherent risk of injury, particularly if there are faulty body mechanics and or the absence of adequate rest. This can result in postural overload or chronic muscular fatigue.
Because stretching affects the muscles, joints, and tendons, the first line of defense against RSDs is to stretch daily to prevent, or at least reduce the risk of creating a RSD somewhere in your body. This stretching should be coupled with adequate rest in order for the body to repair itself and recover from the repetitive activity.
Another line of defense against RSDs is good posture. This comes from an awareness of your body position, how long you stay immobile, and how much excess stress influences your activity. Simple adjustments to your chair or desk height, or repositioning your equipment to a more accessible position, can help in eliminating muscular problems.
While some occupations and certain body types have a greater risk of creating a RSD, all RSDs are preventable at some point in time. If you begin performing a new activity incorrectly, the chance of preventing a problem in the future is diminished. If you work or play so hard and for so long that you never allow yourself time to rest and recover, then the odds of you creating a RSD increase dramatically. Working and playing to the best of your ability requires obeying basic biomechanical principles in order not to injure yourself unnecessarily. Remember, you were not born with back pain or Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, and many people never get a RSD in their life, so why should you?
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