RSI is 100 per cent curable with exercise. No surgery needed.

Self-massage to significantly reduce RSI

Discovered that a foam roller can be a great way to release tight muscles in the legs, glutes, hips, lower back, upper back and shoulders. 

Try this exercise. It is brilliant! The result is a great relief from RSI



Images sent by Shiva (see comments)

Attachments_2012_04_11 (zip file with four images)


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37 thoughts on “Self-massage to significantly reduce RSI
  1. ShivaD

    Hi Sanjeev,
    I read through your blogs on Medical Monopoly (doctors) and RSI and cant help but agree that doctors should
    listen to their patients "patiently" and have a discussion as opposed to a discourse.
    I am a code coolie and have suffered from RSI in my forearms due to excessive typing(can’t help that, as its my DAAL/ROTI). After going through about 3 doctors, a host of painkillers(not NSAIDs). I finally decided to do my own thing. I started training my forearms, starting with stretches(Flexor, Extensor, Pronation, Supination) everyday combined with wrist curls(normal and reverse) once a week. And to my surprise and much to the indignation of a particular doctor; I am much better now, en-route to a full recovery.

  2. Craig

    Hi shiva,   Could you by any chance detail the forearms exercises you are doing please, I am at the start of trying to recover and just don't know where to start , I would be very grateful.  Craig

  3. sabhlok


    There is no forearm stretch. There are upper body stretches (lats, pecs, trapezius, etc.). Do these and the forearm will be released. Backstroke swimming is good, but even better is just hanging on gym equipment, and using the roller to grind the muscles – AND stretch. But if there are knots in the forearm, they will need deep tissue (very painful) massage as well.


  4. Craig jones

    Thanks sabhlok,
    Thanks for your reply very much appreciated, i am just about to try and start my road to revcovey after a year of this horrible condition. Can i ask you in what order is best to try treat my self, i see i need the myofasical treatment , i am having difficulty trying to find this in my area but do i understand that this needs to be done first before i start stretches or do i have to try and get trigger point treatment first before i embark on the fasical release?
    Many thanks craig

  5. sabhlok

    Craig, I’m not sure what’s “fascical” release. All I know is that the tight knots/spasms have to be dealt with at the same time as extensive stretches to the upper body (even mid/lower body, particularly hips).


  6. Craig jones

    hi sorry i forgot to add a few things, i was reading your page on what not helps
    "he following ‘specialists’ know very little about RSI: Manipulation therapists, bowen therapists, feldenkrais therapists, ergonomists, shiatsu therapist, sarnos tms"
    I have been reading the lots about sarnos tms but no joy but i guess you tried this also? also with regards to manipulation therapists arent these the same as deep tissue manipulation or have i miss understood.
    many thanks craig

  7. sabhlok

    No. Sarno is a hoax. Placebo effect for the few cases where pain is brain-related.

    Manipulation/deep tissue massage/myotherapy – perhaps the same thing. Don’t know. I used a myotherapist. The idea is to FIND and GRIND knots/spasms in muscles.

  8. Craig jones

    Thanks Sabhlok,
    i hope i can can some results :), can i ask , when you were being treated did you do trigger points? Or just the stretching and massage?
    thx craig

  9. sabhlok

    There is nothing called “trigger” points. Just muscle spasms/knots. These have to be broken through deep massage. And yes, you need to do both together. And indeed, till today, I do that regimen (now, on my own – using external ‘gadgets’, like a softball, roller, etc.)


  10. Craig

    Hi, maybe it's different terminology but trigger points is definatlely a world wide phrase in rsi , they are the knots spams, did u manage to treat any knots in your hands as I would be very interested if u could let me know.  Many thanks Craig

  11. sabhlok

    Craig, the reason I am typing up to 14 hours a day today is because I’ve “treated” these spasms. Yes, these are eminently treatable but do be clear that these will come back very quickly unless the entire upper body muscles are loosened up and brought to normality through intense stretching. Also there are virtually no real problem in hands/arms. All these are sourced in lats/trapezius/pecs/ and lower stomach/back. The key is to fix the pelvic area/ even the thighs, and then the lower back/upper back. Then the rest of the spams almost entirely disappear.

  12. Craig jones

    Hi Sabhlok,
    I have a foam roller but never used it, i have seen you video above and give it a go as i have never used it as i have been afraid to use it.

    I agree with you as my experince so far with doctors and clinics has been very poor no understands what i am says to them after i have passed all the test they do, xray , mri , blood tests. The medical profession is very poor at rsi.
    Could i trouble you please for some help with the exercises you did to stretch and strenthen your body. Do you by any chance have a list of the major execises you found helpful for rsi?

  13. ShivaD

    Hi Craig,
    Apologies for the delayed response. I just did some basic work on my forearms, which is briefly outlined as follows:
    Once a week:(Weight routine)
           1.Palms up wrist curls 12-15 repetitions for 2-3 sets,
           2.Palms down wrist curls 12-15 repetitions for 2-3 sets
           3.Leverage lifts 10-12 repetitions for 2-3 sets
    Poundage:(* Should be based on individual preferences and strength levels)
    Moderate poundage  for exercises 1 and 2, Light  poundage  for exercise 3.
    Barbell or dumbbell for exercises 1 and 2,
    For exercise 3,a dumbbell loaded on one side, with the other side free for gripping, Alternatively any hammer, pipe, 2 by 4 piece of wood can also be used.
    Every day:(Stretches)
           1.Shoulder shrugs and Head or Neck Circling(20-30 seconds)
           2. Hang free for 30 seconds from any over head bar.
           3. Wrist Stretch: Bend wrist, making the fingers point toward the ceiling. Use the other hand and pull the bent palm in towards your body. Hold this position for 15-20 seconds. Relax and repeat this stretch on your alternate hand. Perform this for both hands 2-3 times 
    Poundage: None
    Equipment: None except overhead bar for exercise 2
    Please note that there are several other exercises for forearms, but I outlined what worked for me. This is done, in keeping with the general consensus of providing a suggestion as opposed to a prescription :).
    I can’t embed any images in my posts, Maybe Sanjeev can help me with that as it would help show the form/execution to folks who intend to use this routine.

  14. sabhlok

    I wish I had time to write down the list of stretches that help. I use many common stretches, but have invented many others. Time permitting (unlikely, it seems) I’ll write a book. In the meanwhile, try out all kinds of books/gym teachers. You’ll master your body on your own, I’m sure.


  15. Craig jones

    Many many thanks for your time with this, you are a good man to have the time to help other with this 🙂

  16. Craig

    Hi sabhlok,
    can u give me your thoughts please.
    I have seen 3 physios in the past 2 weeks and they have all been not able to find any overused muscles in my hands,forearms , shoulders, there is  of tension in my neck and upper back. Therefore as my main problems is with my hands they have advised that massaging the hands,forearms won't help, my range of movement is good in all areas too, I was wondering if you would agree from your experience that if they say my muscles are in good condition in my hands and forearms I don't need any attention, massage there.
    What do you think
    Kr craig

  17. sabhlok

    Dear Craig

    The hand has a very large number of muscles, but a significant chunk of the hand motion occurs through tendons that flow through the carpal tunnel. These tendons receive energy from forearm (even upper arm) muscles, so I’m surprised the physios did not find tight forearm/upper arm/ upper back/ shoulder/ neck muscles. It is virtually impossible for hand muscles to be exhausted and tight unless they are exerting energy that forearm muscles would normally do.

    Given what you’ve described, I’m inclined to rate your RSI very mild, which is good news for you. The solution for you could be as simple as giving yourself a good stretch of the upper body and loosening up all upper arm/lower arm muscles – ALONG WITH grinding your hand muscles with a prickly rubber ball/ other object.

    Do note that I provide these thoughts based on my own (much worse) experience, and also based on the work of an outstanding myotherapist. My experience with physios was very poor both in USA and Australia. They simply had NO CLUE about my muscles. Each one said I was (more or less) fine. One gave me ultrasound treatment, another gave me a TENS machine (I spent a fortune buying an ultrasound machine and TENS machine for myself – these are still rotting somewhere in my cupboard today).

    I finally got some (minor) relief from a Shiatsu massage therapist (not good enough, though), which led me finally (through yellow pages) to think about the next stage of massage – i.e. myotherapy.


  18. Craig

    Thanks for the reply, I only wish my rsi was mild.
    i do get tightness and tense in my right arm, upper back . Specifically left and have Ben off six months from work because,y hands always starts to burn and throb after a few hours of using them at e moment and that's just not on a computer it's daily tasks, buti am confused why they cannot find any tightness at all in my forearms and hands. Did you have tightness there.
    About 2 months about it declined so bad that I'd opulent hold anything or eat properly, is taken me 2 months of doing actually nothing with my hands to get to this points but feels like they could go back there again if I tried to use them normally for a period so is is why I am a bit stuck in tryi g to find the right method.  
    With your massage sessions did they find sore points al over your body or did you have them massage shay your forearm although it was not sore , I would be interested to know.
    thanks craig

  19. sabhlok

    Craig, this can’t be resolved over the internet.

    The lack of tightness (spasms/knots) in your case seems to me to be directly related to your inability to find a good local myotherapist. As I have repeatedly said, physiotherapists DON’T understand muscles. They can’t feel and understand the spasms. They can’t distinguish good from bad muscle. You need someone who has spent years ONLY studying muscles. It is virtually impossible to be experiencing what you are, without extensive compression of nerves at various points in the upper arm, as these pass through muscles.

    Please contact Peter Prskalo, my myotherapist, over the phone and ask him for preliminary advice. His details should be on the internet.

    Craig, you can also undertake the exercises I’ve recommended. That shoudl directly help you even if you have bad physios around you.


  20. ShivaD

    A thousand apologies, I have just sent the images across to Sanjeev. Work kept me tied to my desk for the better part of the last few week, so I wasn't checking any of my favorite blogs(this one included) at all. Craig, how's your self diagnosis and treatment coming along ?

  21. Craig jones

    Hi Guys,
    Thanks shiva, I am still trying to find a massage therapist here in wales that understands what to do, Sabhlok has kindly given me the details of the therapist he used in australia so i will give him a cal for a chat when the time difference is right 🙂 – I am still struggling generally though to find anyone genrally hho uderstands hot to treat me. i have just this morning come back from 2 therapists who cannot find any tight muscles in my body except for my left shoulder blade, they say generally mt flecability in my muscles are good and muscles dont feel overused.
    This is confusing to me as the pain i have been getting in my has dipoportionate to the therapists conclusions. i try to find a massage therapist who can work my upper back but i am stuck with the pain in my hands so will have to try to soilder on! 🙂
    Sabhlok, can you re- post the exercises again as i cannot see then at the bottom of this page, many thanks and have a good day both 🙂

  22. Craig jones

    Thanks for the photos I will add these to my regime.
    i am interested to know if I could ask some details about the massage you had please. Did you have massage in your forearms/upper arms , and upper back because there was tension or tightness there?
     Or did you have your massages because you understood that was where you needed it, as my situation they cannot find tension or knots in my forearms or upper arms so I wondered if they did only targeted the areas with tension or overall do you need massage even in areas that aren.t tensed or showing any signs of problem?
    Thanks craig

  23. sabhlok

    Craig, I did not direct the massage (was therapist-directed), but it was focused entirely on knots and tight spots. Very painful. Since there was relief, the effort was expanded virtually across the entire upper body, and that coupled with stretching brought incremental relief over a few months. The worst symptoms stopped first, then soreness, then finally the numbness.

    I’m afraid if you aren’t having any tight spots/spasms then your symptoms could be caused by something else. If I were you I’d research further on the internet. These days patients provide their own stories which are far more helpful than medical encyclopedieas.


  24. Craig jones

    Hi ,
    Thanks for the reply, i have researched and researched my problems but i cannot find anything that fits me, the closet is you amongst other people as i do have tight painful neck, and upper back issues with a few knots,
    Did you hands get slowly better after many months the massage on your upper back and then this led you to doing light weights with them?, as my hands have only now eased up a little but i dont think i can do weights with them yet as i feel they would get worse.
    I have just ditched my last physio 'the 5th' one i have seen as he told me its all in my head which is terribly annoying as i know not.

    I think i know i need treatment along the same path as you as it seems logical to me , although i may need slightly different exercises in certain areas but i will carry on taking to find the right treatment.
    all the best Craig

  25. sabhlok

    Craig, I’ve prepared a video re: self massage. Pl. check it out. Also posted on this blog post:

    “Did you hands get slowly better after many months the massage on your upper back and then this led you to doing light weights with them?”

    Yes, that’s correct.

    It took some time to fix the spasms, but with the self-massage I’ve shown you can do it yourself at home at 10 times the speed.

  26. Craig jones

    Thanks for the video this will be very helpful for me to start, I have 2 foam rollers but never used them to this degree.    How long do you spend on these exercises roughly each session ?
    Thanks Craig

  27. sabhlok

    Craig, I spend as much time as needed. Because this method is VERY painful (almost as painful as a myotherapist session, but more controlled), and because I can do it at home, I do it in stages. Not the whole lot at one time. Say 5 minutes on a given day, maybe 3 times a week. If you need more, you can do more. Just depends on whether you have sore spots (spasms) anywhere in your upper body (including pelvic area).

  28. craig jones

    HI Sabhlok,
    THanks for the replies, can i ask also, were the muscles in your upper or lower arms tight also? I ask this as i have had a muscle specialist check mine out and they have advised me mine feel normal and no tightness.  I ask this as i was windering if in view of this i didnt need to get them massaged, did you get yours massaged because they were tight?
    Many thanks Craig

  29. Arun

    Did Vitamin D help you? I am going through RSI myself for couple of years. All tests came negative. wasted lot of money and time with docs in USA and finally one doctor found that i have low Vitamin D (12 ng/ml) and put me on D2 50,000 IU for 8 weeks. I am in first week . Would like to know if you are feeling better? I work in IT profession and been doing typing for last 13 years.


  30. sabhlok

    I’ve now taken VitD around 4000-5000 units per day for about 4 weeks. I don’t notice any particular impact from it, but maybe it takes more time. The main impacts are from stretching.

  31. Yudy

    I just wanted to thank you for sharing your experiences. I have been battling RSI for about 5 years now and finally had to take a break from work to focus on healing.
    My RSI seems to be focused on the ulnar nerve, although a nerve conduction study and EMG did not find any nerve damage. I have also seen 2 orthopedists, an acupuncturist, an occupational therapist, a physical therapist, and hand surgeon, and no one has been able to help me. I have also changed my workstation several times, use a contoured split keyboard, swiss ball chair, standing station. I have also tried reducing computer use and eliminating musical instrument playing.
    It has been frustrating and nothing seems to help. However, in the past few months, I decided to focus purely on strengthening and stretching and massage, and try to improve my entire body. So far, my RSI does not seem to have improved much, if any. Computer use is still very hard for me, and I quickly start feeling tightness in my right arm, and uncooperative fingers. This quickly leads to discomfort and pain.
    However, your website has given me some hope that I am on the right path. I have been focusing on pullups, rows, deadlifts (regular and romanian), squats, lunges, as well as chest and shoulder exercises. I am making very significant strength improvements, and the stronger lats and traps seem to be a major contributor to my improved posture. I am also doing rotator cuff work to stabilize and strengthen it. I am seeing a massage therapist every other week and doing the foam roll everyday. I stretch all the time (though I haven't begun yoga yet). I also have been to a few Feldenkrais classes. I do quite a bit of cariovascular activity every other day too.
    My posture has improved, my neck and shoulders feel better, but my RSI on my right hand still stubbornly refuses to see any major sign of improvement after 3 months. My guess is that 3 months is still too short a time? 
    In any case, if you have any advice or feel there is anything I can do to improve, please let me know. Your site is the first in my long search where I found somebody who has recovered from severe RSI with these methods and it has been very encouraging. Thank you!

  32. sabhlok


    I wish I had time to provide a list of extreme stretches that I believe I should have learnt even earlier.

    Essentially, I go to the gym and stretch and crunch my muscles heavily (really strong) for short bursts. Hips, back, shoulder.

    The general point I’ve discovered is that all “gentle” treatments are not going to work. The reason is that when large muscles are tight, smaller muscles quickly revert to tension.

    So focus on the large muscles. Hamstrings, big back muscles. Grind the back on a hard ball, etc.

    Anyway, that’s worked beautifully for me. I can now type 80 words a minute for nearly 10 hours a day and only experience mild strain after that.


  33. Yudy

    Thanks sabhlok,
    I am doing foam rolling everyday. I also find that exercise feels good, but weight training temporarily makes my RSI worse. I think this is due to increased tension in muscles after weightlifting. It seems the strengthening is necessary, but this makes my tension worse (temporarily) which makes it even more necessary to do massage, foam rolling, and relaxation.


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