Repetitive Strain

Repetitive strain injuries can occur in many locations in the body but can have different names depending on the location.

The basis for this type of injury is the reptition of near identical movements at one or more regions of the body such as the hand and wrist or shoulder and elbow. The best know example being RSI (repetitive strain injury) of the tendons on the top of the wrist due to prolonged keyboard and mouse use.

Whilst the particular scenarios and areas of the body can change, the mechanisms are similar: repetition of specific movements which overcome the bodies ability to repair the damage. Tendons and muscles are usually the most sensitive to this type of mechanism. This is due to the fact that they need to be used in a range of positions to spread loads and to ensure that blood is both delivered and drained away from them adequately enough to maintain their health and function.

Take the example of holding a pen: if you have limited mobility at your wrist the muscles in your forearm wouldn’t have the chance to shorten and lengthen very much and you would have to move your elbow and shoulder to write. Because the muscles in the forearm are not designed to constantly contract over long periods they would become fatigued, the pressure of the sustained contraction would limit blood flow and could potentially form the basis of a repetitive strain injury.

Equally in the ankle, if you were to wear four inch heels all day your foot would be put into a forward tilted position called plantar flexion. In this position the muscles on the front of the foot and leg would become lengthened and those of the calf would become shortened. Both sides could be negatively effected from being constantly lengthened or shortened and could suffer in exactly the same way as in the example above.

Habits of movement, posture and inefficient equipment use are usually at the heart of repetitive strain injuries so it is essential that such background factors are thoroughly investigated and addressed as well as any symptoms at the actual site of injury.

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