You should always consult your doctor if you have RSI or any medical condition. Doctors are usually hopeless at RSI but you need to rule out other conditions.
This is the story of my long journey out of the unpleasant world of RSI. I hope sharing it will allow other people to understand their case and find their solution faster. I was lucky in getting some very good advice and didn't suffer prolonged serious pain as so many do. It still took me about four years to be totally cured. You may wish to go straight to my conclusions.
RSI is not well understood by science so there are no medically proven cures.
I found my answer by following anecdotal evidence on the internet. I preferred evidence from people who got totally
better, then from those who got substantially better and those who claimed to help others substantially. A lot of advice was well
meant but was from people who could only help a bit.
Here is what helped me and I believe it may help others.
RSI Evidence Page.
My symptoms were tingling feelings in the chest area and mild pain in my elbow which was diagnosed as 'tennis elbow'. The doctor knew enough to refer me for physiotherapy.
The free (UK National Health Service) massage seemed to help but after 5 sessions the therapist said I was not badly enough hurt for her to continue. She said there were queues of people really suffering and she should work on them not me. She told me:-
This surprised me but sounded feasible. She showed me how my muscles were lumpy and stringy & how massaging some of the lumps set off 'electric shocks' down my arm. This was my introduction to 'trigger points'. I joined the internet mailing lists Sorehand & the UK RSI mailing list (links needed) and found:-
These web sites were the best sources of information for understanding
the complex multi-faceted nature of the problem. Sharon and Suparna are
physio-therapists who claim to have helped many people. The diagram on the front page
of Suparna's site was of immense value to me.
rsirescue.com - Suparna Damany
selfcare4rsi.com - Sharon Butler
deepaksharan.com - Dr. Deepak Sharan
This gave me understanding that it was possible to get yourself better. Other research gave me the idea that sports physio-therapists often know a lot about soft tissue and tendon problems. I found a brilliant massage therapist who soon went on to work with the England Cricket team so was lost to me. Paying for intensive therapy was too expensive as I needed maybe 3 massages a week to stop getting worse. Self massage helped but I wasn't really winning. It was time to try other things. I was now sure my tense lumpy muscles and slumped posture were the underlying problem and that muscle tension due to stress was the cause of these. Having RSI causes stress and I had other things going wrong in my life, leading to great stress. Like RSI stress it is not something doctors deal with very well. My ex-wife had heard of the Alexander Technique and bought me an introductory lesson as a present.
I looked up the Alexander Technique (AT) on the web and it sounded confusing and odd. I only went as my ex insisted! Half an hour into that lesson I had stepped through the first door that changed my life and fixed my RSI. Weekly AT lessons helped and inspired me. With self massage and stretching I was able to work full time as a programmer but I was barely managing the problem. Eventually I enrolled for AT teacher training. After three terms of that I felt I was on top of my RSI but hadn't totally beaten it. The training was far more efective than a single weekly lesson. The teacher training was too expensive for me so I stopped it and started looking for the same benefits at a lower price. I had learned enough to have a grasp of the depths of how mind/body change could help and also that the mind/body world is an unusual one. In many cases people's beliefs stop them understanding the relationship between mind and body and superstitious or irrational beliefs get mixed up with the sound psychophysiology of these methods. So listening to advice from other was fraught with pit-falls. My period of confusion about who to believe in my quest for speedy progress was well under way!
I had learned self-hypnosis (deep relaxation) and done
a hypnotherapy training course with the excellent Donald Robertson at
The UK College of Hypnosis and Hypnotherapy I had also read of Hanna Somatics & Feldenkrais other western Somatics techniques. I was becoming aware that somatics is a big diverse field and the eastern versions of it were even weirder but cheaper than the western ones as the had group classes. From my interest in self-hypnosis (which is just super deep relaxation) I decided to see how this related to:-
I found that every town has some sort of buddhist group and you can sit in meditation with them and it works much better than doing self-hypnosis at home alone. I discovered a zen group gave me the most 'intense' meditation experience and this was much to my taste. Now using daily meditation combined with movement and self observation based on my Alexander Technique training I was steadily improving my RSI situation. At the same time my ability to cope with stress was getting steadily better. My new calmer state meant that negative reactions to events and people got weaker and weaker. As this happened I found myself feeling more positive and feeling happy more often. By now I was really interested in somatics and had tried out Tai Chi & yoga classes both of which I liked. Then I went to my first:-
Similar to my first Alexander Technique lesson this was a major epiphany. By now I thought I knew quite a lot about somatics but here was something that blew me away - this could work faster than I thought was possible. After a couple of months of weekly lessons I did the level one teacher training and started doing Kundalini Yoga at home every day. Now I knew I was totally cured and felt sure there would be no relapse and that has been the case.
With daily Kudalini yoga I soon reached the stage where I can say my RSI is complete. I am totally cured - I can't imagine it coming back as my muscles are so much less tense than they used to be. I continue with regular Kundalini Yoga and meditation. I will go to any sort of yoga or meditation class when I can too - I like all styles of yoga I have tried and can learn from them, but Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan is my favourite. It allows faster change than any other mind/body system I know of. I have got used to the 'cultural' aspects of it that I am not fond of and appreciate the underlying yoga techniques for what they are.
RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury is an MSD (Muscular Skeletal Disorder). The solution for it is the same as for other MSD's - De-stressing or in AT terms improve your Use. Very few medical doctors know about this - you are lucky if you find one that does. Things that help with RSI can be arranged into a continuum. You generally start looking for an answer with ergonomic changes and if that doesn't work move on to external physical things like stretching and massage then if that doesn't work on to the somatic mind/body techniques.
1 - Breaks, Arranging chairs, special keyboards etc. These all help but often only to avoid or slow down the onset of the problem. Once you have definite symptoms it is likely they wonmay not be enough.
These may be enough if your problem is not too deep. They tend to work slowly and are expensive. People will try them if the talk of somatics systems baffles or alienates them.
This is where the deepest most effective answer lies. De-stress and your symptoms melt away and your resilience to repetitive work becomes far greater. It also makes you a happier person if you give a lot of your time and effort to it. The trouble is these things are impossible to really describe, you have to actually do them and experience the changes they bring to understand them. They also start slowly so many people try a class or two and if they don't feel immediate benefit give up. Sadly it's not like that you have to work hard at it.
Weekly AT lessons were helping relieve my RSI very slowly. In AT teacher training the improvement was much faster.
Sounds good. Like AT but has Awareness Through Movement which is something I guess that works more like Tai Chi or yoga.
See www.hanna.com. His pandiculation technique sounds just like one used in Kundalini yoga.
There are many yoga systems. The underlying mond/body processes are the same but the elements of each style are chosen to suit teachers and students tastes with regards to the degree of physicality and how much deep relaxation is done. . A great teacher will get results whatever the style. Many yoga classes are 'shallow' - nothing much more than excercise and gentle relaxation classes. This is fine as that is all some people want but it is not serious de-stressing.
This style is designed to offer some of the the deepest fastest acting yogic techniques. On first exposure it can seem pretty odd but it is well worth perservering. Yoga tends to get tangled up with peoples belief systems and many people find this off-putting. You can do yoga it for it's benefits and it doesn't matter what your religious/spiritual values and beliefs are.
Yoga is moving and stretching that stimulates the same 'self repair' processes of meditation.
This is called 'moving meditation'. This is the eastern system that is closest to the Alexander Technique in that it proceeds at a steady gentle pace.
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