Repetitive Motion Injuries

There are ways to avoid repetitive motion injuries at work, at home and on the athletic field such as warming up, stretching, standing instead of sitting, and resting.

What are some common names for certain repetitive motion injuries?

Dr. Luke Stringer: Repetitive motion injuries are caused by highly repetitive motions, funnily enough, such as sitting. They essentially cause cumulative damage to the body’s soft tissue, so muscles, ligaments, tendons, which are characterized chiefly by pain and then as they worsen become weak, get loss of feeling. I’d have to say sitting is probably the most common repetitive injury we’re seeing today; it can cause a whole host of health issues. The most well-known one would have to be carpel tunnel syndrome.

How do you know if you have a repetitive motion injury? What are the symptoms?

Dr. Luke Stringer: Symptoms vary depending on which body part is affected and what caused the problem in the first place. However, initially symptoms may occur when performing the repetitive task, such as typing at a computer. They usually tend to go away after rest. However, as the problem worsens, the symptoms will become present all the time and then will feel worse when performing that task. Symptoms classically include tenderness in the joint, pain in the joint. Will then get some tingling, some numbness, we can even see loss of strength and eventually weakness.

If someone is an athlete practicing the same sport over and over, how can they avoid a repetitive movement injury?

Dr. Luke Stringer: Good practices, essentially. So taking the body through a thorough warm up which should include some aerobic activity to raise the heartbeat, some dynamic stretching to activate the muscles, specifically the joints to be used such as shoulders in a tennis player. And then lastly some activation exercises to stabilize your muscles within the joint. And then post exercise is also very important such as an aerobic cool down, some static and deep stretching. This can all be done by an athlete; however pro athletes will have a whole host of specialists helping them out including chiropractors and soft tissue specialists to make sure the joint and the soft tissue are maintained and moving really well. And obviously staying hydrated is critically important.

What should people do at work to avoid getting repetitive motion injuries?

Dr. Luke Stringer: The average American sits for about 13 hours a day and this can cause a whole host of health issues specifically these repetitive motion injuries. So, if you’re like one of the people in America who has to sit for a living, try and stand for at least 15 minutes every hour and for the last five minutes we should be trying to walk around. Research into walking during your lunch time; 40 minutes continuously over lunch has been proven to reduce your risk of heart rate and heart disease and Type 2 diabetes by about 40%.

What treatments are available to help with these injuries?

Dr. Luke Stringer: Again, this would all depend on the type of injury and the chronicity of it, but a good place to start would be workplace modifications such as acquiring a standing desk. Second would be some self-care like basic stretching and icing protocols. And then lastly, a specialist like seeing a chiropractor to give you a thorough diagnosis and treatment plan to correct the issue at its source.

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