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Of course, best situation is to avoid injury completely, and here are some tips to keep you stitching for years to come.
1. Get an accurate diagnosis from a physician if you suspect you have a repetitive stress injury. There are many other conditions that can cause, mimic, or worsen RSI such as fibromyalgia, Lyme disease or arthritis.
2. Take frequent stretch and rest breaks while you are stitching or doing any other kind of repetitive task.
3. Try self massage tools. Self massage can actually be more effective than getting a full body massage from a masseuse. And it's cheaper, too! Some of best tools are theracane and backnobber. They are great for massaging trigger points in hard to reach places.
4. Try yoga. Even mainstream medical doctors are starting to recommend yoga for conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome. Yoga is something you can do even at your desk at work.
5. Eat a healthy diet. While it does not seem to be well known, a number of nutritional deficiencies can lead to tight muscles and joints.
6. Watch your posture. Poor posture is a major risk factor for RSI. When your bones are not properly aligned, then your muscles are forced to work harder to keep your body balanced and erect. Bad posture also causes stress in your spinal cord, which cuts nerves and signals to your arms and wrists. There have been studies that show connection between hunching and tendinitis/repetitive stress injuries.
7. Get a good night's sleep. Muscles that are over tired may be more prone to injury. Caffeine can also interrupt sleep as well as make muscles twitch and get tight. 8. Walk or exercise as often as you can fit in (15-45 min.) This increases circulation, and keeps your body healthier, stronger, and better able to ward off problems. Include wrist exercises with weights.
9. DO NOT work through pain! Stop immediately if you feel discomfort/tightness/pain.
Katrina Renouf is the founder and owner of the cross stitch website www.matkailuxstitch.com.