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Ergonomics - Reducing Repetitive Movements

Patient: Doctor, it hurts when I do (...insert work, home, or leisure task...).
Doctor: Well, don't do that.

I've had many clients who are frustrated, having heard this, knowing that they cannot stop working or performing the activity that is painful. Although it is helpful to work with an ergonomic specialist who can show you specific ways in which to make your work less stressful on the body, a common-sense approach to activities can also make a difference.

This multi-part series will offer some common-sense tips - based on the ergonomic principles of avoiding repetition, force and awkward postures - that can help you avoid pain while working.


I worked recently with a graphic designer who was having pain in both arms. Working long days to complete a complicated project, a mouse-click counter showed that he was clicking the mouse between 10,000 to 15,000 times per day. The graphic designer researched available software and was able to purchase a new program that reduced his mouse clicks to 3000 to 4000 clicks per day. By the time he attended his first appointment with me, this client was already well on his way to recovery because he had intuitively related his pain to mouse use, confirmed this with the mouse-click counter, and taken steps to reduce the repetition by researching alternative software packages and changing to a program that demanded many fewer clicks.

Methods of Reducing Repetition


Next Week - Methods for Reducing Force & Awkward Postures

Marji Hajic is an Occupational Therapist and a Certified Hand Therapist practicing in Santa Barbara, California. For more information on hand and upper extremity injuries, prevention and recovery, visit Hand Health Resources.

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