What are musculoskeletal disorders?
Musculoskeletal disorders are injuries and conditions that affect the muscles, tendons, ligaments, and all other parts of the body connected with motion. Almost everybody experiences musculoskeletal ailments several times over the course of their life. Examples include the following:
- Spinal conditions, such as degenerative disc disease and herniated discs
- Rotator cuff injuries, which affect the muscles, tendons and ligaments in the shoulder
- Carpal tunnel syndrome and radial tunnel syndrome
- Injuries to the muscles, tendons and ligaments, such as strains and sprains
- Mechanical back syndrome
- Tension neck syndrome
Many musculoskeletal disorders result from repetitive stress injuries, which means a part of your body is gradually becoming fatigued by a repetitive motion. Examples are carpal tunnel syndrome that often afflicts people who spend a lot of time typing or playing keyboard instruments, and some sports-related injuries.
What are the causes of musculoskeletal disorders?
Everybody is at risk of developing these conditions at some point, but there are certain factors that increase the likelihood at any given time. These include the following:
- Use of improper form and technique when doing certain exercises, such as stretching or lifting weights
- Inadequate sleep, and insufficient rest between hard workouts
- Excess weight that affects how the body is balanced when it is in motion
- Work that involves repetitive motions, such as typing or lifting
- Poor ergonomic practices – how your workstation is set up
- Awkward postures that place strain on the joints and muscles
How can I reduce my risk of injury?
Musculoskeletal disorders are among the most highly preventable conditions. Steps that you can take to keep yourself safe and free from injury include the following:
- When starting a new or unfamiliar exercise, make sure you know the proper form and technique
- Gradually ramp up your effort and duration of physical activity – avoid the temptation to do too much, too fast, too soon
- Ensure that your physical fitness regime includes rest days, to allow your muscles to recover and regenerate
- Have your workplace assessed by an ergonomics expert
- If your work involves repetition, take frequent breaks
- Use good posture when you are standing and sitting
- Ensure that your mattress and pillows are right for you