Repetitive Strain Injury  
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One big problem for many window cleaners and one I myself have had, and still endure, is repetitive strain injury (RSI).

Window cleaning requires a lot of arm and shoulder movement, much more than you’d normally use in everyday life or most other jobs. These movements don’t really have a great deal of variety to them either, the motions you’ll use to clean one window will be replicated on the next window, and the next window, and the next window, etc.

Now, if you were only cleaning windows every now and again like most average Joes, this wouldn’t be a problem, but seeing as you’ll be cleaning them everyday all day till you get a better job, or die, it can become a very big issue believe me.

I’ve heard of window cleaners reporting pain emanating from their wrists, shoulders, elbows and backs (the ones with back pain tend to be water fed pole users). It does appear to be a common problem.

I was getting RSI pretty bad in my left shoulder, (I’m left handed) not bad enough for me to call it quits on my window cleaning career, but bad enough to start drinking cod-liver oil and taking glucosamine tablets. Neither of these remedies seemed to work, and drinking the cod-liver oil was worse than just putting up with the shoulder pain anyway.

While this difficulty I was having with my shoulder continued, I decided to book myself a holiday for two weeks. With childlike optimism I eagerly looked forward to it. Firstly I felt jubilant that I was going to have my first holiday in years, but my main source of happiness stemmed from my belief that after two weeks rest, my shoulder would heal and I wouldn’t feel pain at work anymore.

Unfortunately this tiny little hope in my otherwise bleak little life was crushed. Upon returning from my holiday and getting back to work, my shoulder pain flared up again after only a couple of days.     

I’m too macho to visit the doctor, but even if I could swallow my pride and go, I don’t believe there’s a lot they could do for me. I imagine they’ll hand out some anti-inflammatory tablets and tell me to rest. Sadly, resting from window cleaning is the one thing you and I can’t do, because if you’re not working you’re not earning.

I bet you’re wishing now that you’d kept that cushy office number where you got sick pay for a head cold.

One semi-solution I’ve found to combat RSI in window cleaning is to make sure you use both arms equally. Squeegee sometimes with your right hand and sometimes with your left, the same goes for detailing and t-bar scrubbing. I still get pain in my shoulder, but nowhere near as bad as it was.

Squeegeeing with the hand you’re not accustomed to doing it with may be difficult and feel awkward at first, but it’s well worth persisting with it in the long run.

If you start as you mean to go on and fully utilize both of your arms in equal measure from the very beginning of your window cleaning career, you will hopefully avoid this problem altogether.

The other thing you can do is use a wagtail squeegee. I use a 14 inch wagtail whirlwind. It allows you to soap up and squeegee a window all with one tool. This means your shoulder isn't having to conduct the movement of changing between your tbar and squeegee as often. Also, it is a lot lighter than a regular tbar, and so again this helps take the strain off your shoulder.

It takes a little while to get used to the wagtail, but it is worth persisting.

The last thing you can do if you're having shoulder pain, is rearrange your toolbelt, so that your wagtail or traditional tools are located on the opposite hip than they'd normally be. This further encourages you to use your less dominant shoulder, hopefully leaving your hurting shoulder to rest and recover.



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