Avoiding Repetitive Stress Injury When House Painting

Anytime you do something over and over again, you can injure yourself. Merriam Webster defines repetitive stress injuries as “Any of various painful musculoskeletal disorders (such as carpal tunnel syndrome or tendinitis) caused by cumulative damage to muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, or joints (as of the hand or shoulder) from highly repetitive movements —called also repetitive stress injury.” In other words, when you use the same part of the body over and over again with similar motions, you can injure yourself.

Some common forms of this injury occur due to computer use, manual labor, and even simple things such as house cleaning. In our job, painting involves a ton of repetitive motion, which can lead injury. This is no different for anyone who chooses to take on the task of painting themselves, even if it is a small project such as a room. That is why we wanted to share some tips on how to avoid such injuries because once you have them, they can take time and treatment to heal. In severe cases, they can stop you from doing what caused the injury in the first place.

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We really want to drive our point home, which is why we are going to do something a bit unusual. We are going to share some information on how these injuries are prevalent in the workplace. The following paragraph and statistics are from Legal Match.

Each year, nearly 2/3 of all occupational injuries reported are caused by repeated trauma or movement, mainly to upper body parts such as the shoulder, wrist, and elbow. Some repetitive stress injury (RSI) statistics are listed below, which were gathered from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Occupational Health and Safety Administration.

  • In 2012, the incident rate for Repetitive Motion injuries was 3.0 incidents per 10,000 workers.
  • Musculoskeletal disease (MSD) had an incident rate of 37.8/10,000 workers, and overexertion accounted for 12.5 incidents per 10,000 workers. Furthermore, repetitive motion is often a factor in MSD and overexertion cases.
  • Repetitive motion injuries take an average of 23 days to fully recover. This is 14 days more than the average for all other injuries (most take only 9 days).
  • Repetitive motion injuries cost employers an estimated $80 billion a year.
  • The most common repetitive stress injury is carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS). CTS affects more than 8 million Americans.
  • Nearly half of all carpal tunnel syndrome cases cause workers to miss 31 days or more of work time.
  • An estimated 260,000 carpal tunnel syndrome release surgeries are performed annually; 47% of these cases are considered to be work-related.

As you can see, these injuries can be costly, take time to heal, and are very common. Thus, it is important to take every precaution to avoid them as much as possible when house painting or doing other repetitive tasks at work or home.

Stretch and Take Breaks

You want to treat yourself like an athlete when it comes to preventing injury. Just like an athlete is going to stretch and take breaks before, during, and after their activity, so should you with repetitive tasks. Doing so allows the body part you are repeatedly using to have flexibility and proper rest to avoid overdoing it. If you are trying to paint for hours on end to get the job done fast, for example, and you do not break or stretch, you can damage the tendons in your elbow, wrist, or hands. This can cause injury due to the repetition.

Good Posture

You have been told this over and over: good posture is crucial. There is good reason for that. Good posture keeps your body in alignment. This reduces any unneeded stress on your body. For example, if you are on a computer and you slump your back, that is going to be bad for your back over time. Likewise, when painting, using good posture can help keep your body in the proper position so you put no undue stress where it does not belong.

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Know Your Limits

Just like you don’t suddenly decide to run a marathon without training, you shouldn’t paint for days on end without proper conditioning. This does not mean you shouldn’t paint if you want to. This means you should know your limits. If you know you are active on a regular basis and can paint with good posture for a longer period of time, good on you. If, however, you know you will tire after thirty minutes, do not push it. Know your limits so you can work within them and avoid injury.

Other Ways to Avoid Injury

  • Wear a brace on your wrist or back as needed for support
  • Use the right tools for the job, such as long-handled rollers for ceilings and ladders to get to corners
  • Drink plenty of fluids as this forces you to take a break
  • Hire a professional
  • Work at a comfortable pace

You are important, and we want to see you at your best so you can enjoy life. Repetitive stress injuries can put a damper on your ability to live a functional life, like rain can dampen a day at the beach. Therefore, we ask you understand the prevalence of repetitive stress injuries and how to prevent them. Call us today for more tips on avoiding repetitive stress injuries while painting or in other areas of your daily routines.