If you work in the legal field, you’re well aware of how draining a full day of memo-writing, transcribing, deadline-meeting, and deposition-dashing can be. If you work in the court reporting field long enough, you are also painfully aware of the repetitive stress injuries that can befall those in our profession: carpal tunnel, upper limb disorder, tendonitis, and neck and back pain, to name just a few.
Take it from our team at DLE Court Reporters: The first step is understanding the risk of repetitive strain injuries. We are especially susceptible to neck, back, and arm strains due to the long hours we spend sitting very still in one position, with our arms stretched forward on our keyboards. The symptoms creep in slowly, with occasional numbness, swelling, and stiffness largely ignored and explained away as weather-related or fatigue from a long day on the job.
But left untreated, as well as continuing to repeat the actions that cause them, these minor pangs can evolve into serious injuries. (Like we said: Ouch.)
Are these aches, pains, and all too real injuries unavoidable? Maybe. Here’s our best advice on escaping the pain altogether.
- Sit with a straight posture. Some of the most severe injuries stem from slouching and not maintaining control of your core.
- Reduce your keystroke force, especially if you’re feeling numbness and pain.
- Use a padded stand to help alleviate some arm pressure and also avoid bending your wrist while keystroking.
- For more severe pain, our team at DLE Court Reporters recommends nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to relieve swelling, as well as icing up to twice an hour.
- If court reporting has become a pain in the neck or back, it’s important to again examine your posture. Sit up straight while working, and avoid bending your neck downward. Stand-up desks are not only popular due to their design; they’re also supremely helpful for maintaining optimum healthy posture.
- Give up caffeine and nicotine. Coffee dehydrates and steals nutrients from our bodies, leaving our tendons and ligaments susceptible to injury. A little-known side-effect of nicotine is back pain and muscle strain. By avoiding both, you’re giving your body a fighting chance to beat injuries.
One more thing: Don’t underestimate the effectiveness of breaks. They’re not always possible, but they’re always beneficial. Remember: these injuries are caused by repetitive stress on your body, so any interruption is helpful.