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"Wrench Out" Repetitive Stress Injury With Exercise

by Uma Campbell

Do you live to work, or work to live?

For many of us, our learned trades sustain our lifestyles. We can take great pride in our craft and finished products. However, our professions often entail hours of work, standing on our feet while performing the same tasks over and over while using many handheld tools.

In fact, according to OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) repetitive stress and strain injuries are the number one job hazard and cost companies billions of dollars every year.

The Problem with Repetitive Movements

Think about the movements you perform every day. Every time you use an impact drill, angle a piece of wood through a scroll saw or reach above our heads to tighten a bolt we are using specific groups of muscles, tendons, bones, nerves, and joints over and over. As days, months, and years pass, you can develop or build up repetitive strain injuries from overusing these select body areas.

This can result in limited mobility, trouble moving joints, pain, and even disability in the long-term unless we take proactive measures today by implementing exercises to help relieve stressed body parts.

No job is immune to repetitive stress! Whether you work on the shop floor of a manufacturing plant, own a construction business, enjoy woodworking on the weekends or even spend house working on quotes or plans at a desk, many of us are at risk for overusing certain body parts in our jobs.

These motions can result in injuries with the accompanying symptoms:

  • Discomfort
  • Pain
  • Numbness
  • Weakness
  • Restricted range of motion
  • Tingling
  • Back pain
  • Tendonitis
  • Rotator cuff problems
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • And more!

5 Exercises To Overcome Repetitive Strain

If we fail to use the appropriate muscles or adjacent body parts correctly, we might not be able to restore the normal use of these muscles later down the road. Unfortunately, many of us find it difficult to find the time, money, or energy to spend priceless hours in the gym, visiting a physical therapist, or taking fitness classes. After all, we are already balancing our home lives with busy work schedules. Those reasons alone are why it is essential to take advantage of exercises today to avoid repetitive strain injuries from occurring.

Listed below are 5 inexpensive and simple straight-forward exercises that can reduce the risk or likelihood of suffering from repetitive strain injuries:

  • Simple stretches for your fingers, wrists, and back. Allow yourself time to take a break every so often and stretch for a few seconds. Stretching will prevent weakness and stiffness from setting in and making our jobs more difficult.
  • Shoulder and wrist rolls. In addition to stretching, remember to roll your joints every now and then. Throughout a project or during the weekday, roll your wrists and shoulders. This will help relax tension on our muscles and joints. As an added bonus, rolling your shoulders helps improve our posture!
  • Hula hooping. While hula hooping isn't often perceived as manly, it is a great way to strengthen your core and work a variety of muscles at once. The unpredictability of hula hooping is great for rotating, loosening, and flexing muscles at a variety of speeds and can be used on the neck, arms, legs, and back. As an added bonus, you can easily store a hula hoop without a lot of extra effort or storage.
  • Planking. Improper lifting or pulling on the job can put a handyman at risk. This makes it essential to strengthen and tighten our cores (abdominal muscles). To decrease the risk of injury, set aside a minute or two everyday to plank. Simply, stretch out, belly on the floor, tighten your muscles, and prop yourself up on your forearms. While it is similar to a push up, you hold this position as long as you can. As your core gets stronger, you will notice an increase in your stamina and technique.
  • Yoga. Embrace your inner yogi and take advantage of the breathing, strengthening, and flexibility this time honored exercise offers. Look online for free videos or tutorials or sign up for a class to begin with simple poses and work your way up to more advanced moves. Eventually, you should be able to see a dramatic improvement in your flexibility, strength, and frame of mind.

Looking Ahead

Our jobs and hobbies play an essential role in our lives. However, it is important that we take a few minutes everyday to prevent them from ruining our ability to enjoy life. What tips do you have for reducing the risk of repetitive strain injury?