RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury) occurs through repeated movements that cause damage and inflammation to the soft tissues of the body. It's most prevalent in the upper limbs, particularly in the forearm. People who use computers for extended periods of time are particularly at risk of developing RSI. If you think you have this type of injury, then physiotherapy can help. Ask your company if they'll pay for a workplace assessment by a physiotherapist who specialises in work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSD). If your company can't provide this help, then follow these tips to prevent your RSI from worsening while you get the physio you need to recover.
Often, repetitive strain injury begins with bad posture. Sitting at a desk that's too high or too low will put your body in a less than optimum position when working. If you can't work out whether your posture is correct, get a colleague to tell you whether your upper arm sits vertically and your lower arm sits horizontally. Your arms should be at right angles. If they're not, then adjust your chair to remedy this. You also need to ensure your feet are flat on the ground. If your adjusted seat prevents this, consider putting a platform under your feet to make sure they sit flat. In addition, your back should be straight when you're sitting in your chair. Sit far enough back to use the backrest, or use a pillow for support to keep your back straight.
The ideal position for your computer monitor is slightly below eye level. Aim to have the top of the screen sit 5 cm lower than your line of sight to prevent neck problems. When it comes to protecting your wrists, there are opposing views about whether gel keyboard rests work, but they are worth trying. Avoid using the stand at the back of your keyboard; instead, keep it flat. This way you'll avoid having your wrists angled while typing. If you find your keyboard problematic, consider an ergonomic keyboard that allows your hands to be in a neutral position. Your mouse should be situated next to your keyboard close to the front of your desk preventing you having to lean forward to reach it. Like keyboards, ergonomic mice are available if you're struggling with your mouse. You should also remove any clutter in front of you, so you don't need to lean forward to get to your keyboard and mouse.
Take frequent breaks from mouse and keyboard use. It can be easy to get caught up in what you're doing. If you find yourself forgetting to take breaks, set yourself an alarm to remind yourself to do so. It doesn't have to be a long break—getting off the computer for 5 minutes in every hour should suffice. During your breaks, get up, stretch your legs and move your arms.