Resetting: The Solution to Repetitive Stress


Repetitive stress remains one of the most consequential health risks facing today’s workforce, from industrial workers to musicians. Performing the repetitive movements demanded by certain job tasks affects not only musculoskeletal function, but also the circulatory, lymphatic, and nervous systems. The key to preventing repetitive stress injuries starts with the concept of reciprocal inhibition: when a muscle is contracted, the muscles on the other side of the joint relax automatically. Resetting, or strengthening the muscle groups opposite the ones being repetitively used, is an effective way to protect the body from repetitive stress.


Musculoskeletal disorders and repetitive stress injuries (RSIs) are one of the leading causes of occupational injury in U.S. businesses, along with hundreds of thousands of days away from work per year [1]. In the past several decades, there has been a significant increase—not only in the U.S., but worldwide—of reported RSIs in the neck, shoulders, arms, and hands, a phenomenon which dates back to the growing use of computers, CNC machinery, and related technology in the home and workplace that require the user to engage in repetitive motions [9].

RSIs are characterized by overuse of the tendons and muscles through repetitive motion. This is mainly due to the repetitive movements that are demanded of people in order to perform certain physical tasks, which are often accompanied by poor posture; for example, sitting at a computer or using mass production machines not only involves the repetitive movements of the hand and arm required to type and navigate, but also remaining in a fixed (and most likely a non-neutral) posture while doing so. Repetitive stress subjects the body to a variety of adverse effects, some of which include the shortening or tightness of muscles, the inflammation of tendons, the impingement of nerves, and the inhibition in the circulation of the blood and lymphatic fluids.

Additionally, RSIs have the potential to negatively impact quality-of-life; from carpal tunnel syndrome to back pain and rotator cuff injuries, repetitive stress poses a very real obstacle to performing physically-intensive job tasks and even the ability to complete daily activities if left unchecked. When a worker’s ability to perform these tasks is diminished as a result of an RSI, it means more downtime, both inside and out of the workplace. In order to combat the effects of repetitive stress and to help prevent RSIs, repetitively used muscles must be “reset” …