A generation of office workers is experiencing sky-high rates of pain and injury due to computer work. Spending the majority of one's working hours in the same position, remaining mostly inactive, will take obvious tolls on your health.
However, three studies also looked at the physical differences in muscle tension when computer workers were feeling emotionally and mentally stressed while they worked.
Soreness, pain, tension.
Working in the same position for hours at a time can cause muscles to feel painfully overworked. This type of pain may feel like:
* Nagging aches
* Tension, stiffness
* Sharp, shooting pain
* Intense soreness
Repetitive Stress Injuries (RSIs).
When movement patterns are repetitive, damage occurs in muscles and connective tissue. This is known as a repetitive stress, or strain injury, or RSIs.
Pain or other symptoms do not always arise immediately. Signs of injury may take years to develop. So, your body might be experiencing micro-trauma, or the onset of an RSI, for years before signs feel severe or disabling.
Studies reveal role of stress in RSIs for computer workers.
Recently, in December 2007, Rietveld and colleagues at the University of Amsterdam revealed that stress induces more muscle tension in computer users. They concluded that stress may contribute to increased RSIs, and that psychological conditions may be risk factors for RSIs.
Laursen's research team, of the National Institute of Public Health in Copenhagen, Denmark, revealed in 2002 that mental demands during computer work increased muscle activity.
An interesting 2003 study by Wahlstrom et al. , at the Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Sweden, showed that stress was associated with higher muscle activity in the trapezius muscle. Workers who reported high levels of emotional stress worked more often with lifted shoulders and exerted more muscle work.
What does this mean for computer workers?
To avoid pain and injury, take measures to relieve stress before, during and after work.
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