Tendonitis and repetitive strain injury: recovery formula

clasped-handsI’m a tendinitis expert, but not by choice. In 1997, I started an online business and by 2002 my hands were so sore from typing I knew my company and career were in danger. Then, I got bad advice from a doctor and the sh*t really hit the fan. After wearing a brace for three weeks, my muscles atrophied and my condition worsened so much I was unable to serve my food, drive a car or even dress myself.

Repetitive strain injury (RSI) and tendinitis happen when you repeat a motion frequently on tight tissues and when the rate of damage exceeds your body’s natural rate of repair. I’m going to show you how I’ve learned to treat my RSI by loosening tissue and accelerating my body’s repair efforts. If you like technical terms, the primary technique I use now that I’m in maintenance mode is called self-myofascial release and sometimes trigger point therapy.

My primary injury was to my hands so this guide will focus on the hands, but I’ve also used the same principles on my feet, elbows and glutes (for plantar fasciitis, lateral epicondylitis / tennis elbow and upper hamstring tendinopathy). These techniques work anywhere you have tendinitis or RSI.

The Formula

Faith

your-miracleThe first thing you need on your journey of healing is to know that you will heal. Your miracle will happen once you learn what your body needs because it has a remarkable will and capacity to heal itself. Know too that you aren’t alone – there is a large community of people who have suffered similar injuries and therapists who can help you heal.

Fifteen years ago when my injury reached crisis stage, I was frightened when I read that some people never recovered from RSI if it was allowed to progress too far. With research and experimentation, however, I discovered an effective therapy. Now, 15 years later, I still have the same underlying disease which makes me ultrasensitive to repetitive stress, but I’ve refined my therapy protocol and I can get a lot done with my hands as a result (those are mine in the picture).

Here’s how I’ve learned to treat repetitive stress injury (with the help of many books, therapists and much trial and error):

Rest

Stop or slow down whatever you’re doing that’s causing you pain. I know as well as anyone how difficult that is — I didn’t drive a car for three months and bought new pants that were easier to get on and off. I didn’t pick up my newborn daughter for months. I relearned typing on the Data Hand keyboard and eventually I switched to speech recognition software Dragon Naturally Speaking (a tremendous nuisance but it works). Whether you like this advice or not doesn’t really matter because your body will eventually force you to do what’s necessary – still, sooner is better than later. Take my word for it.

upside-down-mouseOne of the ways I rested my hands is by using my knees to click the mouse. Notice in the photo at the right, I used hot melt glue to position an optical mouse upside down under my desk on each side of the keyboard. I use the right knee for right clicking and the left knee for left clicking.

stand-deskToday I work standing up (see pic on left) and move the cursor with a wacom tablet and use my left thumb to click the mouse buttons on the same old trackball.

“A recovery for every effort.” When you’re healthy, you can do whatever you like. But, with a chronic illness, the metaphor of the bank account should guide you. Imagine your injury as an overdrawn bank account – when you rest or do therapy, it’s like making a small deposit. When you do physical activity that stresses your injury, you’re making a withdrawal. Healing happens when you make more deposits than withdrawals.

Stretching

conquering-carpal-tunnel-syndromeErase everything from your mind you know about stretching so we can start from scratch. Injured tissue is very delicate and therapeutic stretching is a science. I learned how to do it from Sharon Butler’s superlative book Conquering Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and Other Repetitive Strain Injuries: A Self-Care Program. There’s also a very helpful collection of emails she wrote on sorehand. I broke down in tears reading those emails when it gave me hope I could recover the use of my hands. Thank you Sharon!

I still do about 45 minutes of stretching every evening to improve flexibility in my hands. At the end of my session, my hands feel worn out and crappy, but the next morning, this extra layer of distress is gone and from experience I know this is a good protocol for me. About a third to one half of my stretching targets the upper body and the remainder is focused on my fingers and hands themselves.

Understanding the Stretch Point is the first key to healing your injuries. The Stretch Point is just a very small stretch, but we’ll need to measure how small it is to make sure we’re doing it right and doing it the same way each time. The stretch point is the amount of stretch that subsides when held for 15 seconds.

Let’s try it – put both hands together in front of your face as if you were going to pray. But, these are very subtle sensations, so do this in a quiet place, when your mind is quiet and where you will have no interruptions. Next, raise your elbows slowly out and upwards keeping your hands in the same position. When you feel a very small stretch, stop and hold that position. Start counting – you should start to feel the stretch fade. If it fades substantially within 15 seconds, you just found the Stretch Point, congratulations. If it takes 45 seconds, your stretch was too strong, try again.

Why is this important?

Your body will heal when you perform the right stretches – always using the stretch point as a guide to avoiding further injury. Anyone who has experienced the recovery process knows that it’s not easy to avoid taking two steps forward and one back. With a little forward progress, everyone gets excited and pushes a little too far, too fast and inevitably falls backwards. The Stretch Point is a critical yardstick that will protect you from overstretching. It will help you to have a deeper understanding of how stretching works too.

First, let’s talk about fascia, a form of connective tissue that supports and gives form to muscles. Inside a muscle, the smallest muscle fiber is wrapped with fascia. Then, bundles of those fibers are wrapped together with fascia. Then, bundles of bundles are wrapped with fascia, then the whole muscle is wrapped with it. If you follow that muscle along, at some point, the muscle fibers end. But, the fascia doesn’t – it continues until it joins other strands of fascia to become a tendon. Finally, if you follow the tendons along, they attach attache to and blend into the bone.

You can feel this too — how fascia that was spread in many layers, running lengthwise through the muscle, joins together becoming tendon — in your lower calf where the belly of your calf muscle is very thick up near your knee, but narrows and becomes the Achilles tendon down at your ankle.

The same structure is present in every muscle in your body. That means that fascia connects everything in your body to everything else. So what, you ask?

Well, fascia is unique in its ability to chemically change in order to protect the body. When stressed, the collagen fibers that make up the fascia bunch together, forming a thickened and denser bunch of fascia. This can happen instantly as in the unfortunate case where you get rear-ended at a traffic light. At the moment of impact, your fascia instantaneously thicken to create a natural neck brace that protects your spinal cord. Or, if you fall backward on the ice as I did last year and stick your hand out to break your fall, you find that your wrist sustains an enormous impact and bends backward much farther than you like, but doesn’t snap.

Fascia also thickens to protect your body in nonemergency situations, for example when you are typing. The body’s ability to adapt slowly or instantaneously to our activities and accidents is miraculous – what’s not so hot is that the fascia lacks the ability to reverse the thickening and tightening on its own. So, the consequences of stress and trauma in your body are cumulative – your fascia thickens and causes some muscles to work harder than others which causes more thickening in another muscle and the restrictions accumulate. Eventually, it becomes painful especially when tight fascia tugs and pulls on a nerve.

What bodyworkers like Dr. Ida discovered, is that stretching restricted fascia is the most effective way to restore its normal, loose fluidity. By applying pressure, we can manually stretch our fascia back into its natural shape.

Understanding how it all works is helpful, because now you can start to understand what you are doing and feeling as you stretch and massage. You’ll understand what’s happening when you feel a stretch point resolve. You should see too that massage pressure creates a stretch of your fascia the same way that performing a split or bending your wrist back does.

Now, you can understand how rolling with the Massage Track or other roller releases restrictions in your fascia that are inaccessible any other way. Finally, you’ll understand how restrictions causing pain at one point, can result from restrictions in your fascia located in different parts of your body and sometimes in different layers of the same muscle.

Massage

Massage has been used for thousands of years to heal injuries, but your doctor won’t mention it, because until recently, scientific evidence has been lacking. Last year, however, researchers from Ontario and California found clear molecular evidence that overworked muscle cells respond to massage with decreases in inflammatory compounds and increases in cell metabolism and healing factors.

Twelve years ago, my first experience with massage was a disaster. I received a strong massage on my hands and they swelled up right afterwards. It was 7 days before the swelling went down and they returned to ‘normal’. So, go slow if you’ve never had a massage before.

If you have sore hands, for example, get an upper body massage that excludes your hands and do your own very gentle massage on your hands before letting someone else touch them. I do my own 30 minute massage on my hands and forearms nearly every evening and it’s transforming. Here’s how I do it:

When my injury was acute, I also used a tool called the Armaid which was very helpful. It has a significant drawback, though, which prevents me from using it any longer. It requires too much physical strength in the hands to operate, so while I’m doing therapy with it, I’m also stressing the same tissues I’m trying to heal. For this reason, I had family members assist me to do massage on my forearms using Armaid. Now, I prefer my own invention, the Body Track, because I can use my body weight to apply pressure to avoid further stressing the injury.

What I’ve learned about massage from my experiences over 15 years:

  • Pressure heals.
  • Strong, slow deep tissue massage makes a difference, anything else is just relaxation.
  • Deep tissue massage is a type of internal stretching for tissues that are inaccessible through yoga or standard stretching.
  • Rolfing/bodywork can create long-lasting changes in your body.
  • Cross friction massage (CFM) on the hands and feet can be painful but just as helpful too.
  • Pain is just tightness leaving your body.
  • A great bodyworker or massage therapist is worth higher rates.
  • Great massage therapists can work miracles but having the right massage tool at home can also prevent a serious problem from occurring in the first place.

Rolling

foam-roller

Before I developed Massage Track, the tools that I used most were rollers – the black foam roller and the calf and thigh rollers are good tools for healing tendinitis in the lower half of the body. The black foam roller is also good for working the lats which connect to the arms and hands but not as good as 4″ PVC pipe! Now, I rarely use a roller.

Deep Tissue Magic 8 massage ball setI find massage balls are better at isolating problem areas and penetrating the muscle belly to release trigger points and create flexibility where you need it. The right massage ball is the closest you can get to the hands or elbows of a massage therapist. When used right, they have the power to create lasting changes in your tissues, so please check out my massage ball guide next.

Strengthening

I initially started strengthening exercises because my muscles atrophied after using a brace. However, I continue to exercise my fingers using rubber bands. Here’s why – look at your arm, for a moment. When you bend your elbow, your biceps (flexors) shorten while the triceps (extensors) on the other side of the arm must lengthen an equal amount.

thera-band-hand-xtrainerDigi-Extend-Hand-ExerciserThat makes them protagonist and antagonist and there must be an easy balance between them. If there is imbalance due to scarring or thickening of the fascia, one muscle will have to work harder, making it feel fatigued.

When my hands are at rest, my fingers are curled from tightness in my flexor muscles. So, I do rubber band exercises to strengthen the extensor muscles hoping to restore balance between the two. I just use rubber bands but there are special gloves and devices like the Thera-Band Hand Xtrainer or Digi-Extend shown on the right.

Wherever your pain is, consider strengthening your extensors because that’s frequently a source of imbalance and pain. You can find devices to help you strengthen the toe extensors and shin muscles, for example, which may help you beat foot pain if you’ve got it.

Ice

I have used a lot of ice and always find it helpful. Grab a large kitchen bowl and fill it with 4 or 5 cups of ice and about the same amount of water so that you can submerge both hands in ice cold water. I leave them in as long as I can tolerate the pain, usually for bursts of 10 to 20 seconds.

After 4 or 5 minutes of this, when my hands are so cold that they start numbing, I’m finished. It temporarily decreases inflammation and greatly improves circulation. A pain in the a** to be sure, but when you need to make an immediate deposit in your therapy account, this works!

Warming Up

hand-warmersTendinitis is always more painful when your body is cold (because your tissues are tighter) and I find it helpful to keep my hands warm. So, in the winter, I use the hand warmers you see in the picture on the right. There are tighter fitting fingerless gloves available which I wear occasionally. Mostly though I find these loose-fitting ones in the picture most comfortable.

Background Issues

If you’ve got repetitive strain injury, it means your body is not healing fast enough to keep up with the strain it’s under.  If you’ve got a garden-variety case of RSI,  you probably need to fix your posture or technique and maybe your diet. After some rest and therapy, you’ll be back in business in no time.  However, if you have a case of RSI that won’t go away after you’ve done all the right things,  you’ll want to take a deeper look at your health picture. Here are some suggestions to get you started:

  • Go see a naturopath and a nutritionist.
  • Get a Manganese RBC blood test – deficiency (which I have) is know to cause TMJ, Repetitive Motion Syndrome, and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
  • Do a series of colon cleanses and liver flushes.
  • Consider a parasite protocol.
  • Consider a home sleep study using an oximeter to determine whether you are suffering from sleep apnea. If you’re not sleeping deeply, you’re not healing. I did a formal sleep study and threw away $1500.  My  $100 oximeter works much better.
  • Do you have Mercury in your mouth?  Amalgam fillings can be highly toxic to some sensitive individuals disrupting their natural healing capabilities. It takes time, but you can fix this.

What Not to Do

Repetitive Stress Injury is a chronic disease putting it into a category where the traditional medical establishment in the US fails tragically. My personal experience leads me to believe that you put yourself at great risk of physical harm if you take your RSI to a traditional MD.

If you want to let my experience guide you, you’ll avoid:

Resources

Books

Info & discussion

Mouse alternatives

Therapists

Tools

Email This Page
Print Friendly

56 comments…

  • Shane July 30, 2015, 8:25 pm

    What do you mean underlying health condition? I imagine once you resolve the trigger points you should be able to use the muscle without any issues. Essentially this problem is something caused by excessive tension in the muscles and knotted up fascia, there should not be any damage to the muscle if you have rested for such a significant period of time; so what is stopping you from using a normal keyboard at this point? I’m not trying to be rude, or undermine your problem, I’m actually curious.

    Reply
    • Eric July 31, 2015, 1:35 am

      No worries, I’ve been ill for many years – probably started when I was in high school so that’s going back 30 years or so (though I did not know it at the time)… heavy metal toxicity, chronic fatigue, adrenal fatigue etc. etc. – question is, why are your muscles excessively tight? does your body make enough collagen? does it repair damage at a normal rate while you sleep? Everyone’s chemistry is unique and there are many many possibilities.

      Reply
      • Shane July 31, 2015, 10:46 pm

        Interesting… Did this happen to all start for you after taking antibiotics for one reason or another? Try to really think back.

        Reply
        • Eric August 2, 2015, 5:03 pm

          Yes, I did take a lot of antibiotics as a child and also some other prescription medications which were probably very unhelpful!

          Reply
  • Shane July 30, 2015, 6:37 am

    Would you be able to return to daily use of a normal keyboard without reinjuring yourself? And if an ergonomic keyboard is heavily suggested to avoid reinjury which keyboard, aside from the data hand, would be best?

    Reply
    • Eric July 30, 2015, 3:56 pm

      I could not return to daily use of a normal keyboard now as I still have not solved my underlying health problems. I’m making progress though and hope to get there soon. Never did find any keyboard as good as the data hand but I didn’t keep looking either. I think Dragon is really the safest solution as much as it sucks. However, I did always want to try one of those projected keyboards. That’s still on my to do list…

      Reply
  • Shane July 29, 2015, 8:54 pm

    How long after you begin stretching and the massage were you able to return to using the computer without pain? I’ve been completely resting from using my hands for 3 months whilst also massaging and stretching and strengthening every day. I’m eager to be able to live a normal life again; so I’m wondering how much longer it will be.

    Reply
    • Eric July 29, 2015, 10:56 pm

      well, I think it was somewhere in between six and nine months, but I never went back to typing on a normal keyboard – I used the Data Hand and stayed on it for a few years…

      Reply
  • Letty Munoz July 29, 2015, 10:04 am

    I was just diagnosed with wrist tendonitis 4 days ago when both my wrists swelled up and were extremely painful. They looked and felt like they were ready to pop. I’m 52 yrs old, the strange thing is, I’ve been having this problem with my hands since I was in my early 30’s and didn’t know what it was..when they would swell up like that, I would have my kids alternate on rubbing them until I could open them and be able to move them enough to get out of bed and get going. This past weekend I just couldn’t take the pain, plus my kids don’t live with me anymore..thanks for all the tips, I did the one with the elbow, loved it. Gonna keep doing that exercise..

    Reply
    • Eric July 29, 2015, 2:44 pm

      Hi Letty, sorry to hear about your flareup! When I put my hands under a lot of stress and the inflammation is out of control, after I’m done with my therapy, I drench them with DMSO. In 10 to 20 minutes the inflammation disappears entirely. It’s quite magical…

      Reply
  • Shane July 29, 2015, 12:57 am

    Hello Eric; I’ve suffered from RSI very similar to yours for 3 years now – I’m in constant pain from it, even when at rest. I’m currently working towards recovery doing everything you have detailed on this webpage (though I have been doing this before actually coming across your webpage). I have to ask; after enough stretching and massage and strengthening is there ever a point where someone who has suffered from long-term RSI can return back to completely normal functioning? I’m asking because I’m only 19 and soon to enroll in college for Computer Science. Computer science is really the only field that interests me but I don’t want to work towards a career which won’t work out due to RSI. Thanks in advance for any replies.

    Reply
    • Eric July 29, 2015, 2:40 pm

      Hi Shane, sorry to hear this – I know how hard it is! I think you can return to completely normal functioning but only if you discover what the underlying health issue that caused you to develop RSI is. Truly healthy people can abuse their bodies during the day and when they sleep their tissues repair. In my case, I’m still working on that but making good progress. My manganese level was so low it was essentially not detectable by the standard blood tests. This is a common cause of tendonitis because your body can’t make collagen properly without adequate levels of manganese…

      Reply
  • Michelle July 6, 2015, 4:52 pm

    Hi Eric,

    Thank you for this article… I’ve read tons of information on this topic because I’m also suffering from the online entrepreneurial curse of inflammation pain.

    This is the first article I’ve come across that seems to be speaking my language on so many levels. Much of what you’ve mentioned has helped me as well and you’ve given a few new suggestions that I’m excited to try.

    The most challenging part for me has been to go slow and steady with recovery – especially with home treatment. When I get excited about work, I’ll tend to push myself a bit too hard. However, you’re right that consistent deposits toward healing will pay off tremendously in the end. 😉

    Reply
    • Eric July 6, 2015, 8:58 pm

      I think the two steps forward one step back is the universal way of healing!! Who can help getting excited when you feel little improvement and then overdoing it? Good healing to you:)

      Reply
  • JOw May 20, 2015, 3:22 am

    i was wondering how long did your rsi last all together. I’ve had it for almost two years now. I’ve seen several doctors with no answers to the causes of my hand pain. They Hurt A lot and they also get stiff a lot and I’ve developed a tremor that’s pretty bad in both hands of the last year. I’ve been to a neurologist he gave me a clear bill of health. I’ve had every test imaginable EMGs nerve conduction studies x-rays MRIs blood tests more x-rays more nerve conduction studies. I was starting to get some good progress a few months ago but I’ve backslided several times. Some days I have a lot of doubt to whether or not my hands will ever heal back to normal. Sites like this give me a little bit I hope

    Reply
    • Eric May 24, 2015, 1:18 pm

      I sympathize with you – I’ve been on a 15 year journey to discover the cause of my issues and have probably spent more than $30,000 on it. Here are the things that I would recommend you do in this order:

      1. get your DNA tested using 23andme and then run it through livewello.com
      2. Get an essential elements and heavy metal hair test done using Doctor’s Data.
      3. Find a natural path experienced with items 1 and 2 to help you interpret.

      warmly,
      Eric

      Reply
      • Mark July 5, 2015, 10:12 pm

        Hello. I feel your pain as i’m in a similar situation, but i have found a cure. I (just like you) was hypersensitive to repetetive stress until i found about TMS and Dr. Sarno’s book. Please search for TMSwiki(dot)org for more info. There are a lot of people like us there. And they all got better. Me too. I’m much better now. All i want is to help you guys. Of couse you may not have tms, but to be sure, you first have to know what a tms is in thevfirst place. GL.

        Reply
        • Eric July 6, 2015, 8:55 pm

          I know what TMS is. Don’t have it. Glad it works for some people though. Our world is very toxic, from the standpoint of chemicals and heavy metals but certainly those aren’t the only toxins!!

          Reply
    • Russ Gauthier May 31, 2015, 1:24 am

      S. It’s uselful becI sympathize with you and the other commentors. I was born with flat feet….am now 41 yrs and have alot of issues with knees, hips and lower back from this. Was born 1.5 months premature which undervelloped alot of my body right from the get go! Had a very noticeable hump in my back as a child my mom tried to nag to me to “straighten my back”! (I have a point…lol!!!)For carreers , I was a cabinet maker from 12 yrs old(feet used to kill me standing all day…anyway), my Dad owned the company! When I finished school etc. ….at 30 yrs old started job in a fertilizer lab as Chemical Technologist….During the span of 6 yrs had every type of anaysis done due to:
      -pancreatitis, gallbladder attacks, gallbladder removed, intestine issues, possible chrones disease blah, blah, blah, then my appendix taken out…

      Then …..RSI……lost full function of my right hand due to pinched nerve. Prior to this the signs were there, even 10yrs before. All that cabinet making and lab work on my forward posture body was too much. I had lost wrist function for years, lost thumb function for a year, lost index finger fuction. I then got cotizone injection shots in thumb and finger (don’t). I had been diagnosed with tendonitis in some part of either arm at least 10 times. I then lost my job.. (i worked through most of this…..beleive it or not…alot of help from my coworkers)but the one morning , i washed my face and I heard a huge “snap” that came out of my right arm tendon…..that arm was done!!! so was my job.. but not my life!!

      I was put on disability and found a really good physiotherapist, bought a tennis ball and learned my body. I new I had no disease because i’ve already had an MRI on my brain for example for MS earlier that year plus all the other test that showed negative……what was so wrong!!!! i asked myself. Answers started coming with physio…..amazing results, painful but worth it. Now dont get me wrong, there are all kinds of physio therapists out there, chiropractors, massage… But this guy new his stuff, new chiro, new acupuncture, new alot about the body and how it worked. Skip the doctors…they dont see pain everyday like a physiotherapist does. Treatment was as follows and could be applied to anyone out there with some professional guidance:

      1) Let your inflammation settle. can’t stress this one enough! With any inflammation still in place no progress can be made. This was key for me, as I had never let my arms etc. heal enough after a tendonitis etc. episode. Doctors give what? 1- 2 weeks off. Nope, depending on degree of distress your arms are in determines how long to rest prior to step 2. My right arm nerves pinches somewhere in my mid forearm muscles. As i now had to use my left arm for everything…I lost function in my left arm 2 weeks later…go figure (I was in rough shape, I tell you). I was told not to use my arms as best as I could for over 3 months….yup….sucked…but was key to any future at all!!!
      2) Only after inflammation starts to disperse can you officially start any real progress forward. (I saw physio, 3X a week prior to this point). I could barely drive to any of my appointments. Windy day!…nope..no go! I couldn’t use a computer mouse, Started to get acupuncture or IMS now cause the needles go down deep in between the muscle fibers. My arm don’t work because of years of overuse with a forward posture. The nerves supplying all your arm function are tied in with your arm muscles and go up and over the inside of your shoulder and neck. Poor posture, poor ergonomics, put extreme stress on these nerves. Overtime poor nerve function causes, poor muscle function, which causes you to change how you position your arm to do things. This causes more imbalance, then more inflammation, then more loss of muscle strength. Soon your arm cant heal itself at all.
      3) Start small exercises to gain CONTROL not strength. What you want if anything is to gain endurance not muscle strength persai. I used household items, small weak elastics, always keeping my mind on shoulders back. (later!) Opening and closing cabinet doors, small things.
      4)Stretching, very important, arm tendons (be patient), chest are first. Started laying on tennis balls for upper mid back. Due to years of being “slouched”, I had no real back muscles, no rear shoulder deltoid muscles. I had to (over a year and a half now) exercise back muscles (all shoulder, upper neck etc.)then break the knots in my back. Then shoulder blades might take over a year of this…then……shoulder blades pop back out, shoulders are able to rotate back easier, muscles start to react, Strength in arms slowly improve.

      Anyways, its been 2 years since I ,lost my job. I’ve spent lots of time busting knots in back, working out, hundreds of acupuncture needles later, I’ve even invented a mouse contraption that requires no forearm muscles needed to use and you can use your own mouse with it and can be used in both hands.
      Anyway again. This has to be one of the longest recovery times of all types of other injuries one could have. Progress is slow but is achievable.
      I now have almost full function of both arms. Shoulder muscles starting to grow. This spring I have built a pergola, dug a 40ft trench, built a greenhouse and 2 planters, unloaded 2 full truckloads of gravel and sand. I’ve been working on my invention, fixing up my rental house and can hold 2×10’s over my head with arm. Honestly it’s crazy, I’m a little sore in my elbows, but it goes away quickly and is manageable. I still go to physio once a week. Goodluck
      Russ

      Reply
      • Eric June 19, 2015, 4:06 pm

        Congratulations on your recovery Russ!! You and I have been through some very similar things. Completely agree with your suggestions. One thing that catches my attention is that you may have been exposed to light a few toxic substances in the cabinet shop and in your lab job. You may want to look at doing a hair test for heavy metals…

        Reply
  • DO April 18, 2015, 9:43 am

    Great article – shame that one of your advertising ploys has homophobic connotations: ‘foam rollers are for sissies’.

    Reply
    • Eric April 18, 2015, 9:32 pm

      Thanks for bringing that to my attention D, wasn’t my intention at all so I removed it!! warm regards, Eric.

      Reply
  • Robert April 10, 2015, 5:23 pm

    Hi again Eric.
    I was wondering if you could give me another tip. Do you have additional recommendations for how to move and click on the Computer mouse in alternative methods other than by using your arms? Do you still use two mice upside down and use your knees to click? I was also wondering if you had any experience with any of the footpedal products that I have seen online. Of course, I would also like to find something where I can actually move the mouse other than using my arms. Even just moving, and not even clicking, a computer mouse really does not feel well still.

    Thanks again.

    Reply
    • Eric April 13, 2015, 3:25 pm

      Robert, thanks for writing – I do have some thoughts for you. I switched to a standing desk maybe six months ago so I no longer use the knee mouse. I’m very happy with my new arrangement although it was difficult for me to get use to – my shoulders hurt for the first 30 days roughly but I’m well-adjusted now. I’m not using any special desk, just stacks of paper blocks to raise up my keyboard and a wood shelf I built to raise the monitors. I’ve replaced the mice with a wacom tablet and a trackball. I use the tablet with my right hand and use the trackball to click with my thumb. It’s working really well. I highly recommend the tablet mouse. the trackball for the left hand doesn’t really have to be a trackball, could just be a mouse that’s taped or glued down so it doesn’t move. sometimes however I do need to use the trackball in place of the tablet because the tablet doesn’t work for every single website/application. But I would say it’s around 95 to 99%. Hope this is helpful…

      Reply
      • Robert April 13, 2015, 5:59 pm

        Again, thank you very much for your input Eric! Yes, that is helpful.

        Reply
    • Russ Gauthier May 31, 2015, 1:31 am

      I have been working on a “glove” I call it. A mouse glove, about the size of your hand, molded to it, with the mouse embedded to it. I tried buying a horseshoe mouse, hurt just as much (hence why i invented my own device to use that made more sense). So anyhow, you insert your mouse into it, your hand sits on it, you relax all your arm muscles. You move the whole thing using the shoulder!!!! You would have to see it. I’ve used my prototype for over a year and recently said, i could sell this for much cheaper than all those other crazy things one could get. FYI
      Russ

      Reply
      • Eric June 19, 2015, 4:06 pm

        Glad you found a good solution for the mouse. I’ve been very happy with my switch to a wacom tablet as mouse replacement…

        Reply
  • Michelle March 2, 2015, 1:37 am

    Hi Eric,
    I just did the wall stretch and elbow massage and felt SO much better! My injury started back in July and I’m working with workers comp. my treatment has included physical therapy( hot wax, warming pads, stretches), ergonomic assesment, and currently acupuncture. While all of these have taught me something, the pain is still there, not as extreme as before but still there. My pain came from working 8 hour days infront of the computer and no breaks. My pain is mostly on my forearm but worked is way up to my shoulder and trap. I’m not sure exactly what else to do. I do the stretches recommended to me in physical therapy and I’ve started working out again( lifting light weights to work my strength up again) but I’m not sure what the next step is. My doctor said that if I continue to have pain I might have to get injections which I am extremely against because I think of it as a temporary solution to a permanent problem. I even asked my doctor that and he agreed. I’m 24 years old and I know that I’m young enough to recover from this injury but it’s really hard when I try what is recommended yet I still have pain. I try to figure out what triggers it( when I’m not on the computer) and I think it’s mostly my posture.
    I just wanted to say thank you for writing this. This helps me realize that I am not alone in this!

    Reply
    • Eric March 3, 2015, 1:47 am

      Thanks for the feedback Michelle!! It sounds like there are still lots of other very effective things that you should do before even thinking about any kind of injection:

      1. my Body Track for your upper back, shoulders, forearms and upper arms
      2. hard roller for your lats and upper arms – you can get a 4 inch PVC pipe from Home Depot and save a lot of money
      3. gentle Yoga if it doesn’t worsen your pain
      4. look at some supplements like magnesium, possibly adrenal supplements including B vitamins, and DMSO
      5. work standing up

      Let me know how you’re doing…
      – Eric

      Reply
  • Jill February 13, 2015, 3:22 am

    Hi Eric I have very stiff, hot and swollen fingers from keeping them very still in a brace. I wasn’t told to keep my fingers moving. The reason for the wrist brace was given to me was that I hurt or damaged my thumb tendon. How often do you do the stretches and what should my hand look like after stretches. They are looking a bit blotchy (red and white). Thanks for a reply. Jill

    Reply
    • Eric February 14, 2015, 11:46 pm

      hi Jill, therapy for an acute situation is different from maintenance which is what I do now. In your situation, you want to be very very careful not to overstretch – that’s a really difficult thing to manage because I think everyone has to more or less figure that out on their own through trial and error. After I do my maintenance stretching in the evenings, my hands always feel yucky, significantly worse than before stretching. But I know that I’ve done the right amount of stretching when they feel good again in the morning. For me that’s the yardstick. As for frequency, I would not stretch more than once a day. The hands are very delicate. It also has something to do with your own healing rate. It may be that some people can stretch more than once a day but I don’t heal fast enough for that… good healing to you, Eric!

      Reply
      • Michele N February 23, 2015, 2:27 am

        Your arm massage is excellent. I just tried it on my own forearms and even leaning without full weight, it was still very painful and made my hands swell up straight away, so I only did it briefly but will certainly keep it up. Thanks :)

        Myofascial trigger point release therapy does hurt but it’s fabulous for breaking up deep fibrous knots and letting the oxygen start flowing properly again.

        I can’t recommend high doses of magnesium throughout the day to help decrease tight muscles and inflammation, as well as relieve pain.

        Serrapeptase is a wonderful systemic enzyme that eats away at scar tissue and does no harm to anything else.

        It was the only thing that did anything to relieve the awful non-stop pain caused by scar tissue accumulating deep in my lower thigh from a violent impact many years prior. It took a few months but now I only feel it if it gets pressed on. Truly amazing stuff!!!!! Not even massage making my whole upper leg black and blue could break up the scar tissue but taking a few little tablets a couple of times a day did.

        Cheers, Michele

        Reply
        • Eric February 25, 2015, 12:37 am

          hi Michelle, thanks for writing and sharing your great experience with Serrapeptase!

          You wrote “I can’t recommend high doses of magnesium throughout the day to help decrease tight muscles and inflammation, as well as relieve pain.”

          Did you mean that you do recommend highly?

          warm regards,
          Eric

          Reply
  • Stephanie Schon February 5, 2015, 2:44 pm

    Eric,

    Your blog has given me hope!

    I am 25 years old and I have Chronic RSI in both of my hamstrings and inner thighs from over exercising and not giving my body enough rest…it has gotten to the point where standing for long periods of time is hard and any form of lower body exercise is impossible…More than feeling pain, my legs feel weak and fatigued… for about a week now I have been getting deep tissue massages and using a softball on my own to massage my legs, stretching right after, doing accupuncture and taking protein, amino acids, creatine, and glutamine. After reading your blog I am going to start doing ice baths. Is there anything else that you recommend? Also someone recommended I get ozone injections…what do you think? How long did it take you to recover?

    Thank you, Stephanie

    Reply
    • Eric February 14, 2015, 11:40 pm

      hi Stephanie, sorry for the delay in replying! sounds like you are off to a good start with the massage and softball. I would add in the foam roller also – look for a very hard one and use it the way I’ve described using my Massage Track tools. Hold each position for 30 to 90 seconds instead of rolling around busily. You can also use a rolling pin the kind you might have in the kitchen for baking.

      It so happens I’m a very big fan of ozone and just got my own medical grade ozone generator. I’d recommend watching some of Dr. Rowen’s videos: https://www.youtube.com/user/RobertRowenMD

      You might start out by drinking ozone water…

      wishing you fast healing!
      Eric

      Reply
  • Ray Kirton January 18, 2015, 3:57 am

    Hi Eric……………..how could I use your Massage Track to heal my chronic quads on my right leg?

    I think this has occurred……. from many layers of fascia developing from playing right handed squash….also for many years………….and a recent accident from a cyclist knocking me into the road.

    Plus not having the expertise to know how to balance the effects with my left side after playing squash.
    Thanks for your knowledge.

    Reply
    • Eric January 20, 2015, 4:15 pm

      Ray, you can use the Body Track to roll your quads and it will allow you to get two angles at once. However, if you’re not already doing it, I’d recommend you start rolling right away with a firm foam roller because that will work also. Just make sure to hold each position for 30 to 90 seconds and then move another half-inch or so. If you do this every day for a half an hour, you should see nice permanent improvements…

      Reply
  • Robert December 6, 2014, 5:04 pm

    Hi Eric.

    First off, thank you very much for this website. I am hoping that you can offer to me a little bit of assistance. I have lived with some form of R S I for two years now. I have been out of work for going on 10 months. I had to leave my job in information technology because I was unable to handle the pain that I was experiencing as my job required that I use a mouse or keyboard for 6 to 10 hours per day. I tried so many ergonomic options that it took me months to test them all but nothing helped. I have moderate pain from my shoulders to my hands. It is usually just pain and to a lesser extent a loss of grip strength. I have seen three doctors, have had two tests performed on my wrist, and have had hours of therapy. I still do not have a diagnosis as the therapy did not help and the tests do not show anything wrong with my wrist. For the first six months of unemployment I used ice and heat liberally. I have rested my hands to such an extent that I am afraid the doctors may not have believed me. Since I had to leave my job, I have not used a laptop or desktop computer keyboard or mouse for greater than a few minutes at a time every few weeks.

    Do you have any general suggestions for my course of action from your experience? After using heat and ice every day for six months I saw no improvement but it would reduce the pain while they were being applied, so do you think I should continue using heat and ice? Do you think it would be beneficial at all to have an M R I performed on my elbow or shoulder or have some other tests performed? I have tried to start some stretches over the past 10 months, but they always seem to bother my arms. Do you think I should try again? Lastly, I am afraid of resting my hands too much. Should I start doing some mild repetitive motions such as using a keyboard? If you have any other general suggestions, I am more than willing to hear them!

    I apologize for the long post and for any typographical errors. I am using voice recognition.

    Reply
    • Eric December 6, 2014, 9:41 pm

      Robert, I feel for you! First, be very careful about the type of specialist you see. MDs are great if you’ve been in a car accident, but speaking from personal experience, they can be disastrous if you have a chronic illness. I’ve been hurt very badly by their ignorance. Have you seen a physical therapist yet? You’re not looking for an average physical therapist, but a really great one, that people swear by. Because you have pain in the upper arm I’m wondering if you have heard about thoracic outlet syndrome? After you have made some progress with your RSI, I’d also consider seeing a very good Naturopath if you have any other health issues that might not seem related at the moment but could be. Finally, I really started to make progress when I found a very advanced Rolfer – that would be high on my list too. Hope this helps!

      Reply
      • Robert December 7, 2014, 2:11 am

        Hi Eric.
        Thank you very much for your quick response. I have not heard of thoracic outlet syndrome but will be doing research shortly. I did see a therapist who I really liked, but I have not gone for a while as the visits were very expensive. I will look into all of your suggestions especially a Rolfer.
        Thank you again!

        Reply
  • Pablo August 6, 2014, 2:43 pm

    Hello Eric,

    I stumbled upon your website today and I must say that it looks very good and some of the tips and things you posted are real solutions, I’m definitely going to try all of these. I’ve suffered of what I think is RSI for the past 2 years and I’m just 27 years old… so I’m pretty damn scare. I’ve seen all kind of specialists and no one can really say to me whats wrong, and no one seems to understand what is RSI… so based on my own judgment and considering I have all the symptoms on both arms, from the neck down to tips of fingers, I must say it is RSI.

    I spend 10 hours a day on the computer, I have ergonomic trackball, ergonomic keyboard, 2 flat big screens and recently just bough Mouse Pedals so Im using less my right hand. I have not lost strength on my arms, but sometimes the pain is so much specially on my shoulder, thumb and wrist that even holding a beer is painful.

    I wanted to ask you a couple for things… have you ever tried Yoga? And if you do, what kind of yoga? What about swimming? In your knowledge or experience… since this is a chronic condition and I decide to rest it and put all the effort to recover, can you really recover to a 100%? or is it a permanent condition and I should just learn to deal with it…

    The only thing so far that relieves my pain everyday is applying Cold & Hot at nights after work.

    I guess the most difficult part for me its the stress of realizing that I could reach a point where I need to quit my job…

    Thanks again for your website.

    Pablo

    Reply
    • Eric August 6, 2014, 8:55 pm

      Pablo, I feel for you because your situation sounds similar to mine. Are you using Dragon NaturallySpeaking yet? It was a lifesaver for me. Recently I started using a wacom tablet in place of the mouse and that has been a tremendous improvement too. You might try a stand desk also.

      Yoga has never helped me enough that I ever think about it as a treatment for RSI. In my case, I have underlying health problems. The RSI was an early sign of them. You may want to go to a nutritionist or naturopath to get an evaluation… I can’t recommend seeing an M.D. because they hurt me badly. Chronic health issues are not there thing.

      warm regards,
      Eric

      Reply
      • Pablo August 7, 2014, 3:03 am

        Hey Eric!

        Thanks for the quick response. I’ve think about the Dragon software but I am a structural engineer and my main task on the computer is not typing words, rather a lot of numbers, formulas, spreadsheets and millions of clicks on specific sofwares.

        Something that I widely accept is that my diet sucks. I eat only 1 or 2 timesa day and nothing really healthy. Have you found that diet has a direct impact on RSI? At least right now at the office I switched from coffee to tea hoping it’ll relax me.

        best regards,
        Pablo

        Reply
  • Ben August 4, 2014, 8:59 pm

    Hi Eric

    First of all thanks for the article – especially the section on stress; I think that’s something that a lot of people don’t really take into account when it comes to using computers and suchlike healthily. What are your views on foam rollers as compared to tennis balls for self –massage? Are they typically better for getting deeper into the fascia than a foam roller would be?

    I also agree with you regarding Sharon Butler’s book; I do some of the exercises in there and they do seem to have some positive benefits for myself as well.

    Best regards,

    Ben

    Reply
    • Eric August 5, 2014, 4:21 pm

      Ben, I used to use a foam roller frequently before inventing the Massage Track. Now I use the roller maybe a couple times a year and when I do I usually don’t use a foam roller – just a cheap PVC pipe!

      -Eric

      Reply
      • Ben August 9, 2014, 5:21 pm

        Good stuff Eric, sounds good. I think I might look a bit more into it!

        Best regards

        Reply
  • LucyL August 1, 2014, 1:59 pm

    Thank you so much for this article. I’ve suffered from RSI on my right wrist for 5 months now and I’m coming to my wits end not knowing when it will recover fully. I tried to off load more onto my left hand and ended up with tennis elbow symptoms, so I now have 2 weak arms and hands.

    Thank you for sharing all your tips & research, I will follow closely & hopefully that means my RSI will not turn into a chronic problem.

    Reply
    • Eric August 1, 2014, 3:29 pm

      Do you use the mouse with your right hand? I have recently found a good solution for that… Started using a wacom tablet instead of mouse, fantastic improvement!!

      Reply
  • steve May 3, 2014, 11:20 pm

    I had rsi for about 10 years from working 12 hours a day in high stress investment trading programming job.

    The best thing for me was about 50% massage, 20% ergonomic aids and 30% changing to stand up desk.

    Reply
    • Eric May 4, 2014, 2:33 pm

      Thanks for mentioning that Steve! when I first got serious about treating my RSI, I also started using a stand desk and am sure that it helped too, although couldn’t say what percentage. I quit using it long ago but have just become interested in the idea again and very tempted to put in a preorder on this sharp looking desk on Kickstarter: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2036834894/the-most-affordable-automatic-sit-to-stand-desk

      Reply
      • stevek May 6, 2014, 8:11 pm

        Hi Eric,
        Yup you for sure want the auto adjust desk because it gets tiring standing for too long. I think much of my problems came from just “fighting” through the pain. Now with any pain I make sure to change hands using the mouse or change trackballs or positions.
        Also massage even if hands and wrists feel good. Daily massage ! I am interested in your massage track !

        Reply
        • Eric May 8, 2014, 5:13 pm

          Yeah Steve, I really want that desk, but $500 with shipping is still a chunk of change.

          You are so right about the massage even if hands and wrists feel good. I generally wait until the problems crop up but you are inspiring me. I’m going to try to do the preventative sort. Been working too much under pressure and got into trouble over the past few days and had to do some serious therapy to get back on track. Fortunately I discovered some new ways of using my tools which I’m very happy with. I will include you in my Kickstarter project preview circle when it is ready – would love to have your feedback. Hoping that will be around June 1.

          Reply
  • Marianne Carpenter January 17, 2014, 5:09 pm

    Hi, my name is Marianne and I think your website is brilliant! For the first time in a year something finally makes sence to me so thank you!

    I hope you don’t mind me telling you my story but I feel I might need your help?!

    I had my first baby in 2012 and unfortunately he wasn’t well so we had to stay in hospital for a week, we finally were able to take him home after this time which was amazing. He wasn’t able to breast feed as he was so poorly so I expressed for 2.5 months. The best decision for Rafe but not for me! What I didn’t realise was the damage I was doing to my body. My posture was really bad and the pump I was using was a manual, the warning signs were screaming at me but I just didn’t realise what I was doing as having a tiny baby to look after through out any common sense!!

    I believe that I have a chronic rsi that is in my back and due to this it has effected my whole body, pulling in all my muscles from my feet and from my hands into my back. The pain is so bad every day is a challenge! I was stretching & exercising for four months last year and made some great improvement but then I stopped for seven weeks as the pain became so bad. Its awful as like you explained I have now atrophied my body and my muscles are all in the wrong places. Talk about savere! I have seen specialists, doctors & physio’s and this journey is a true nightmare as no one can tell me the right path to take in recovering.

    Your website has given me more information than I have had from anyone in the last year and makes so much sence to everything I feel, even though my situation is so bad.

    I am now starting again with my stretch programme but I have alot of muscle weekness so im trying to get alot of help from a physical trainer who is qualified in medical problems such as this.

    Do you think there is anything more I can do or is this plan the best way forward? I know it will be a very slow journey but as long as I can get there that’s all that matters.

    Thank you for reading my essay and sorry it’s such a long story! I am however very greatful for any help.

    Kind regards
    Marianne Carpenter

    Reply
    • Eric January 17, 2014, 5:36 pm

      hi Marianne, thanks for writing and for your compliments, I’m glad this material is making sense for you. It sounds like you are pretty much on the right track, I would just encourage you to experiment with rolling your back on tennis balls, or any other type of ball that feels right to you. You might try putting them in a sock to keep them in place… you want to hold each position for a minimum of 12 seconds and up to 60 seconds or longer. You want to wait until you feel a release of tension before moving to a new spot. This is sure to help you!

      Reply
      • Marianne Carpenter January 17, 2014, 9:17 pm

        Thank you so much for your reply, I will certainly give it a good go. I hope in time things will progress, its just the waiting game that’s always the hardest.

        Thank you again
        Kind regards
        Marianne

        Reply
  • Philippe January 7, 2014, 11:36 pm

    Great blog. It is a bigger issue than people think ! I solved my problem with the Enterpad which is a programmable keyboard that helps for repetitive tasks and macros.

    Reply

Leave a Comment

Top