Our bodies were designed to move, to function, repeatedly. In a normal, healthy body using proper motion there is no such thing as a repetitive strain injury (RSI) like carpal tunnel syndrome or tennis elbow. RSIs only happen when our bodies are used improperly. Just as a screw driver makes a lousy hammer our body and it’s parts have specific functions. You can use the back of a screwdriver to hammer in a nail, but it won’t be as effective and you may damage the screwdriver.
RSIs have many factors in their development. As implied in the name there is more than one stress or strain that we put our body through before we notice the injury. Some (not all) of the many factors in RSIs are; improper motion, too great a load, inadequate recovery time, inadequate nutrition, poor overall health and poor nerve function due to subluxation. None of these factors are truly separate, but it is easier to discuss each of them that way.
- Improper motion – Our joints and muscles work best in a certain way. If we try to make them work a different way we may be successful, but not without a cost in efficiency and or injury. We all know that we should lift with our legs and not with our backs. Our back could do it, but we put a greater strain on the joints, discs, and muscles of our spine, and it is an inefficient use of energy. It puts us in a position of possible injury.
- Too great a load -Structurally when we lift something heavy our joints and our muscles are stressed and may be damaged. If not extreme, our bodies can cope with that, they build up the muscle and bone and we become stronger. If we lift something too heavy for our muscles or joints we are likely to be injured.
- Inadequate recovery time – When we stress our bodies they need to recover, resupply, and possibly repair. Some times that takes seconds, and sometimes it can take much longer. Our bodies have a ready supply of energy that can be used, and when that supply is exhausted we have a back up supply (our fat). It takes time for our body to move these chemicals and their waste products into and out of the cells that need them. If we do not give our body the needed time for recovery we are more likely to be injured.
- Inadequate nutrition – Our bodies will use what ever they have. Some things supply better building blocks, or more efficient energy. You are what you eat. If our body does not have the best supplies then it cannot function properly, and improper function leads to injury.
- Poor overall health – Have you ever noticed that fit people can do things easier? They recover faster, they lift more, they run farther, and if they eat the wrong food sometimes their body is able to cope with it better. If our muscles and joints are strong and well used then they are able to do more work, if not they will likely get injured.
- Subluxation – If your nervous system is not functioning efficiently all of the other body processes will be less effective and more likely to be injured.
If you have a RSI you need to address all of the factors related to it. You need to make sure that you are moving properly if it’s carpal tunnel syndrome from computer use, you need to address how you hold yourself when you type, how long you type without rest, if your body is in good condition, what kind of diet do you have, is your keyboard right for you, do you have proper nerve function to handle the stress?
It is not always easy to see all of the factors of a RSI. That is one reason to seek professional help. Someone trained to work with the structures affected by RSIs. Chiropractic is a good choice. Chiropractor’s training has an emphasis on the structure and function of your body. They have less training when it comes to your liver or pancreas, but when it comes to motion, a chiropractor should be your starting point.
Next time…What does chiropractic treatment do and, why is it effective for RSI?