Imagine enforced restriction of technology usage – and if you persist, being in such pain you can scarcely function. As writers, this is the stuff of nightmares!
For our family this nightmare became a reality seemingly overnight, when my husband fell victim to a repetitive strain injury. Of course, initially we didn’t understand his intense neck, back, shoulder, arm and hand pain was caused by a strain injury. Eventually we came to understand that this was also not an overnight occurrence, rather the consequence of long-term, inadequate ergonomic management.
Rehabilitation was slow, painful and frustrating (a right pain in the neck, really ...), but over those years (yes, years) we learned many lessons, including:
a) People generally have little idea of the severity of chronic ergonomic-related strain injuries
b) Symptoms attached to muscle and joint strain caused by poor ergonomics are many and varied
c) These diverse symptoms can be mistaken for more serious medical conditions and the wrong treatment instigated
d) These types of strains are highly preventable
This might come as a shock, but we’re NOT intended to sit all day!!! This of course gets tricky in a world where most endeavours revolve around some form of technology. Let’s face it, our lives are becoming increasingly sedentary. A static lifestyle enables joints to stiffen and soft tissues to shorten and tighten, which can lead to inflammation and pain cycles (ouch!). To maintain flexibility of soft tissue and joints our bodies need to move. A lot!
Physiotherapists have seen firsthand the impact of recognised pain syndromes associated with prolonged technology use. Little twinges can swiftly escalate into persistent aches, and these can include:
• muscle and joint pain
• chest, neck, back, arm and shoulder pain
• numbness, weakness and tingling in hands, wrists
• burning and tingling in feet, hips, legs and gluteals
• bruising of muscles
• swelling, inflamed and stiff joints
• intense nerve pain
To keep strains and pains at bay, prevention is paramount. Don’t ignore early pain indicators – they won’t go away!
In the writing industry we spend hours sitting at a computer or using other electronic devices. This puts us in a high risk category. For this reason we must be informed about ‘writing risks’ and adopt preventative measures, including appropriate health regimes. Over the next few weeks we’re going to explore keys to minimising the risk of ergonomic related strains and pains. Make sure you join us for these practical and informative tips for keeping ‘write on track’.
About the AuthorsPamela Heemskerk has worked as a physiotherapist for over 25 years and has seen firsthand the impact of relatively recent, recognised pain syndromes associated with prolonged use of technology – occurring even in young people. She has undertaken further training in the field of education and is also passionate about educating the community in the effects of hearing loss. She is a keen artist, working primarily with watercolours, and has had numerous short works published.
Adele Jones is the wife of a rehabilitated repetitive strain casualty and has been active in organisational work health and safety roles. Having witnessed the consequences of ergonomic neglect, she is an advocate of sound ergonomic practices. She writes a variety of short works, YA novels (http://rhizapress.com.au/integrate) and historical fiction (http://www.roseandcrownbooks.com). Her writing is inspired by a passion for family, faith, friends, music and science – and her broad ranging imagination. To find out more visit www.adelejonesauthor.com