The inconvenient occurrence of an repetitive overuse injury

So you are cruising along within your usual flow of work and play, stress and rest, when you have to babysit your niece for the weekend; or build a dozen planter boxes and use the staple gun 500 times to affix the chicken wire to the frames; or you rototill the back yard and shovel the dirt all weekend, and now your right shoulder hurts from carry the baby, your right wrist and forearm hurts from squeezing the staple gun, and your right elbow and right abdominal muscles are hurting from all that shoveling.  Should you be surprised?

All us develop a comfortable routine of up and down, push and pull, twist and turn, and our bodies and muscles accommodate those challenges and patterns.  If you perform any of these routines in an inefficient way, you will create an overuse injury.  If you insert another challenge into your life, beyond your usual exertion, you will create an overuse injury.

These overuse syndromes, or repetitive stress injuries (RSIs) can be fairly common, but are preventable, particularly the chronic causes.  It’s one thing to overwhelm your muscles due to a sudden, intense dose of physical activity, it’s another thing to only use your dominant hand for everything you do and ignore basic, physiological principles like overwhelming a body part with repeated actions.

The best things you can do to prevent these overuse syndromes are to 1) alternate sides and give your dominant side a rest, 2) take a break every 30 minutes and stretch your muscles, 3) observe your posture and modify it.  An example here is moving your phone from your lap and hold it up closer to your face, reducing your forward head posture and eliminating “text neck”.  It is the repetitive nature of bending your head forward that creates excessive stress and overuse.

Normal healing is 3 to 6 weeks, so if you alter the way you do things now and create the right environment for healing, you should be all healed within 6 weeks.  Remember, technology is supposed to help improve our lives, not create more problems.  Dr. Ben




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