RSI Exercises: What Makes An Effective Stretch?

Closeup of brown eyeConstruction and manual workers can suffer from RSIHand about to touch a mouse make sure you dont suffer from RSI

Stretches are the cornerstone to an effective program to relieve the symptoms of any repetitive strain injury. Knowing how to do stretches in the best possible way is critical in gaining the most benefit from those stretches, and avoiding any possible re-injury.

When you stretch, you are asking your body to make a change. Ideally, you are asking your body to lengthen a muscle beyond its current range of motion, or to release an adhesion that may have developed in the connective tissue matrix of the body.

The thing you must remember when stretching to recover from any repetitive strain injury is that the tissue is injured. It cannot and will not respond normally to the stretches that most of us do everyday. For repetitive strain injury, it is necessary to craft a whole new way to stretch, one that respects the limits of damaged tissue and works to provide a measure of safety from over-stretching (which could lead to further injury).

For repetitive strain injury stretches, it is critical that you remain in touch with your body as you stretch. If you take the time to feel what is happening under your skin, to feel the sensation of stretching and analyze how it feels and what it's doing, then your chances for spectacular results from that stretch increase significantly.

Once you are actively paying attention to the sensations of your stretch, it is now important to learn how to control those sensations. You do this by increasing or decreasing the intensity of the stretch. How is this accomplished? It's simple, really. Just press harder into the stretch (by tiny bits, please!) to increase the intensity and back off from the stretch (again, by tiny bits so you don't lose the stretch entirely) to decrease its intensity.

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