Fixing Repetitive Strain for Writers

If you spend a lot of your working hours typing and writing, it’s easy to develop chronic pain from repetitive strain. Whether you’re a professional journalist, blogger, or student typing up essays, many of us endure the same physical strains that come with hours spent writing. In this article, we’ll explore how you can keep your writing pain-free by relieving any repetitive strain.

1. What is Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI)?

Fixing Repetitive Strain for Writers
Allied Pain & Spine Institute

Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) is a condition that occurs when muscles, tendons, and nerves are injured from excessive and repetitive overuse. It’s characterized by pain and discomfort in the arms, wrists, hands, legs, and feet, as well as stiffness, numbness, and tingling.

Anyone who does a lot of repetitive motion at work, such as typing and data entry, can be at risk of developing RSI. The risk is even higher for those who do not use the proper ergonomic tools or develop good habits. Poor posture, small motions, and lack of rest and recovery are some of the key contributors to RSI.

Common symptoms include:

  • Pain, tenderness, or stiffness in the arms, wrists, hands, legs, and feet
  • Pain that worsens with physical activity
  • Numbness and tingling in the affected area
  • Weakness in the hands, arms, legs, or feet

If you start to notice symptoms of RSI, you should stop doing the activities that you think might be causing the pain and talk to your doctor. Your doctor can diagnose RSI by doing a physical exam and assessing your range of motion and strength. If necessary, they may also order imaging tests or a nerve conduction study to confirm the diagnosis.

Treating RSI depends on the severity of the condition, but it usually involves rest, physical therapy, and ergonomic modifications to the work setting. Medication such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and muscle relaxants can be prescribed to reduce pain and inflammation. Surgery may also be considered in more severe cases.

2. Exercises to Relieve Symptoms of RSI

Fixing Repetitive Strain for Writers
Medical News Today

Full Body Stretch

This exercise is ideal for those suffering from RSI, as it helps to improve circulation and loosen stiff muscles. To do a Full Body Stretch:

  • Start by standing with feet slightly apart and shoulder width.
  • Lift both arms up above your head while looking up.
  • Stretch your arms as far as you can and hold the position for a few seconds.
  • Drop your arms back down and repeat the exercise 4-5 times, increasing the stretch each time.

Wrist Stretch

This exercise is great for relieving tension in your wrists and forearms, which are common areas for RSI. Here’s how to do a Wrist Stretch:

  • Start by sitting or standing straight, with arms at your side.
  • Bring one hand up and place the palm against the back of the opposite arm.
  • Use the other hand to slowly and gently pull the back of the hand downwards, stretching the wrist and forearm.
  • Hold for a few seconds then repeat 4-5 times with each arm.

Neck and Shoulder Stretch

This exercise is great for easing tension in the neck and shoulders, common areas for RSI. Here’s how to do a Neck and Shoulder Stretch:

  • Start by sitting in a comfortable position and looking straight ahead.
  • Bring your left arm up and place the palm against the back of your head.
  • Slowly and gently pull your head towards your shoulder, without lifting your shoulder up.
  • Hold for a few seconds then switch sides and repeat 4-5 times.

3. Making Adjustments to Your Writing Process

Fixing Repetitive Strain for Writers
Getty Images

Making adjustments to your writing process can help prevent this condition and maintain your productivity. One crucial aspect to consider is ergonomics – ensure your workstation is set up correctly with an ergonomic keyboard, adjustable chair, and proper posture.

Another key adjustment is to take regular breaks and incorporate stretching exercises into your writing routine. Sitting for extended periods can strain your muscles and joints. Stand up, stretch, and move around every hour or so to reduce the risk of RSI.

Additionally, specific hand and wrist exercises can help alleviate tension and increase blood flow, preventing discomfort and potential injuries.

It’s important to pay attention to your typing technique as well. Adopting a light touch and using all your fingers while typing can minimize stress on specific muscles and tendons.

Consider using voice-to-text software or dictation tools to give your hands a break and reduce repetitive movements. These adjustments can help distribute the workload and reduce the strain on your hands and wrists.

Incorporating regular exercise into your daily routine is beneficial not only for your overall health but also for preventing RSI. Engage in activities that strengthen your upper body, such as yoga, swimming, or weightlifting. Strong muscles and good overall fitness can provide better support and protection against repetitive strain injuries.

Finally, it’s essential to listen to your body and recognize early signs of discomfort or pain. Ignoring warning signs can lead to more severe conditions. If you experience persistent pain or discomfort while writing, consult a healthcare professional. They can provide further guidance on ergonomic adjustments, exercises, and treatments to alleviate and prevent RSI, allowing you to continue your writing endeavors with reduced risk.

4. Taking Breaks for a More Comfortable Writing Experience

Taking Breaks
Getty Images

When it comes to writing, many of us forget to take breaks. This can make it more difficult to stay productive and comfortable throughout the writing process. Here are a few tips on why and when to take breaks while writing:

  • Rest your eyes: Writing a document and staring constantly at the same thing can cause eye strain and headaches. To help alleviate the soreness, look away from your computer screen and focus on something else in the room, if only for a few minutes.
  • Clear your head: Sitting in front of a computer for long periods of time can lead to a lack of creative stimulation that can prevent words from being able to flow. Taking breaks can help give your brain a rest, allowing ideas and words to flow when you come back to your work.
  • Refill your energy levels: Writing is an intense activity and one that requires focus and energy. Taking regular breaks can replenish your mental energy and help keep you energized and full of inspiration.

So, when should you take a break? It all depends on how intense you find the task – and how much energy you have on the day. For example, if you’re feeling particularly focused and energized during your session, you can use this and push your break further away. However, if you’re feeling tired and burnt out, take a break earlier.

Overall, taking breaks when writing is essential in order to stay comfortable and to keep your work from becoming stale. Aim to experiment with different times in-between breaks and find what works best for you.


We hope this article has helped you better understand how to tackle pains and injuries related to writing. Remember to practice self-care, be mindful of the way you write, and see a doctor if the symptoms persist or worsen. Writing can be extremely rewarding, but also hard on your body. With proper preventive measures, you can make sure to keep your writing healthy and safe.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.