Physical activity appears to protect against carpal tunnel syndrome and other arm- and shoulder-repetitive injuries, according to research from the University of British Columbia at Vancouver. The study included more than 58,000 people with serious upper body repetitive strain injuries (RSIs) that limited their normal activities. Those who engaged in moderate levels of exercise (such as half-hour walks) three or four times a week showed a 16 percent reduction in risk of developing an RSI. The researchers also analyzed the effect of leisure activities with a high upper-body load (such as tennis, baseball, golf, and weight training) and found that these activities did not increase a person’s chances of developing an RSI. The author, Charles R. Ratzlaff, PhD, physical therapist and epidemiologist, says that exercise helps by restoring balance to the musculoskeletal system. Factors that are associated with an increased risk for upper body RSI include female sex, obesity and smoking.

SOURCE: Arthritis and Rheumatism, April 15, 2007; Vol. 57, Issue 3, pp. 495–500.