Written by Claire Folland on 26 October 2022

7 Ways to Avoid RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury) in the Office


RSI (repetitive strain injury) is a common workplace hazard that can lead to debilitating pain and a reduced ability to work. The good news is that you can take steps to reduce your risk of RSI at work by following these tips:

1. Use your computer monitor at eye level.

The best way to ensure that you are looking at your computer monitor at the right height is by placing it at or below eye level, which is generally considered to be around 46cm above the desk. If this proves too difficult, try placing it somewhere between elbow height and eye level. The monitor should also be at least an arm's length away from you to prevent back strain as well as getting in the way of other things in your workspace.

Once you've set up your monitor properly and adjusted its brightness so that everything is easy on the eyes, try to limit how much time you spend sitting directly in front of it throughout the day. Take breaks by walking around for a few minutes every hour or so if possible; this will help prevent neck and shoulder stiffness from developing over time!

Office worker with a sore shoulder (RSI) from a poorly designed workstation.
In addition to RSI, there are many other muscularskeletal disorders that can arise from a poorly designed office workstation.

2. Use a wrist-friendly keyboard and mouse.

There are a few things you can do to help reduce the strain on your wrists, like:

  • Adjust your keyboard and mouse so that they are as close to your body as possible. This will make it easier for you to keep them in the same position all day long.
  • Use a wrist rest or gel pad between your hand and keyboard when typing, especially if you spend many hours at a time typing without breaks.
  • Keep both the height of the desk and the surface on which you place your computer at eye level (or slightly below), then adjust the chair so that its back is parallel with those surfaces when sitting upright. The top of this surface should be approximately 3cm below eye level; if it's higher than that, consider using a footrest under one leg of your chair instead of raising everything up higher by using a higher desk or table.

3. Sit up straight with your feet flat on the floor.

  • Sit up straight with your feet flat on the floor.
  • Your back should be straight and shoulders relaxed.
  • Your knees should be over your toes, and you should be able to rotate your shoulders back and forth without discomfort.
  • You can also check this by touching your chin to your chest without having to strain; if it is difficult, then you've gone too far forward!

4. Take breaks throughout your workday.

Staying focused and avoiding RSI can be a challenge at work, but taking breaks throughout your workday is an important part of the process. The frequency and length of these breaks depends on what you're doing—and when. For example, if you're typing or using a mouse for long periods of time, it's especially important to take regular breaks from this activity every 30 minutes or so.

But how do you know when to take a break?

The most effective way is to use an app that reminds you when it's time for one. Some apps will even remind you multiple times throughout the day if needed! Most people find that taking frequent short breaks helps them stay alert and focused than taking fewer longer ones that may cause them to lose track of time while they're working away on their tasks at hand (which could lead into trouble later down the line).

And remember: not all types of activities require frequent short breaks! In fact some tasks require longer periods away from distractions in order not get burned out before finishing up

5. Get more sleep and physical activity every day.

  • Get more sleep and physical activity every day.

It's not just the number of hours you spend sleeping that matters, but also the quality of your sleep. This means going to bed at a time that works for your body and waking up naturally, without an alarm clock. The National Sleep Foundation recommends adults between 18-64 years old get 7-9 hours of sleep each night, while older adults should aim for 7-8 hours.

If you have trouble falling asleep after work or during the day when you're on break, try taking a 20 minute power nap during lunchtime or when it's not busy at home. If you still feel tired after waking up from a nap, consider taking an afternoon nap instead of drinking caffeine in order to stay alert throughout the afternoon (and night).

Physical activity helps improve mental health and reduce stress levels—both important factors in avoiding RSI injuries caused by repetitive tasks such as typing at work all day long! You can aim for 150 minutes per week or 30 minutes daily—whatever works best for your schedule!

6. Set up a workstation assessment by consulting with a certified professional ergonomist.

You can avoid RSI by setting up your workstation so that it’s ergonomically correct. To do this, you should consult with a certified professional ergonomist. A certified ergonomist can help assess the way you work and give recommendations for how to improve your workspace. They will also help set up an ergonomic workspace for you, which may include recommending different equipment and tools that are more suited for your tasks and needs.

7. Look for ways to simplify your desk and workspace and avoid clutter.

  • Use a separate, ergonomic mouse for each hand. While using the same hand to move back and forth between the mouse and keyboard is fine, switching back and forth between two mice can cause discomfort.
  • Keep your feet flat on the floor. This will help you avoid bending your wrists in awkward positions by keeping them at a 90 degree angle to avoid wrist flexion and extension during typing or mouse use. If this isn’t possible, adjust your chair so that it allows you to keep both feet flat on the floor while typing at a desk height of approximately 75cm.
  • Avoid sitting with your back against the wall - sit upright with shoulders relaxed, arms resting easily by your sides, elbows bent at right angles, forearms level with the keyboard (or angled slightly outward), wrists straight but not locked (if it hurts when you bend them slightly towards each other then they may be too straight), fingers relaxed; place hands under palms rather than gripping onto sides of keyboards; desktop surfaces should be no higher than elbow height - this helps prevent bending of wrists backwards when reaching outwards towards monitors or other peripherals such as printers etcetera; place monitor directly in front of face rather than above eyes level - this avoids straining neck muscles; make sure monitor is positioned further away from eye line so that neck muscles are not pulled upwards while staring into screen

You can avoid back pain and other common ergonomic hazards in the workplace.

You can protect yourself against back pain and other common ergonomic hazards in the workplace by:

  • Using tools that suit your tasks. If you use a computer for more than 1 hour per day, you should consider using an external keyboard/mouse, trackball or other input device.
  • Sitting up straight with your feet flat on the floor (or at least comfortably close) to reduce strain on your neck and spine.
  • Taking breaks throughout the workday—every 20 minutes or so is recommended for anyone who spends long periods working at a desk. Take some time to stretch out stiff muscles and move around a bit!

If these tips don't help get rid of back pain from working at a desk, you might need to see a doctor about getting it checked out further. It could be something more serious like RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury).


You can avoid back pain and other common ergonomic hazards in the workplace by following these steps. Talk with your employer about setting up a workstation assessment, where you'll work with a certified professional ergonomist to create a customised plan that's right for you. Alba Ergonomics is based in Sydney and helps workplaces all over Australia to improve the safety and wellbeing of their workers. Contact us to discuss your workplace ergonomics with our certified professional ergonomist.

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