9 Comments

Summary:

Considering how much time many of us spend on the computer, many web workers run risks of developing carpal tunnel syndrome or repetitive strain injuries. But there are some steps you can take to limit the problems that come from using less-than-ergonomic keyboards, even if you […]

Considering how much time many of us spend on the computer, many web workers run risks of developing carpal tunnel syndrome or repetitive strain injuries. But there are some steps you can take to limit the problems that come from using less-than-ergonomic keyboards, even if you aren’t ready to run out and buy a new keyboard right now.

  1. Take frequent breaks from the keyboard. If repetitive motion causes injury to your hands, it makes sense that taking a break from those motions will help. However, to get the best effect, you don’t want to just take your hands off the keyboard. Get up and stretch your hands. Frequent breaks can have benefits for the rest of your body as well.
  2. Exercise your hands and arms. No matter what other exercise you get over the course of a day, make a point to stretch out and work your hands, wrists and arms. There are many exercises that can help specifically prevent carpal tunnel syndrome. You can even find demonstrations of how to do them on YouTube.
  3. Support your wrists. There are a variety of supports out there that can help you type. There are both wrist braces that you can wear and wrist rests that you can set in front of your keyboard. It’s a question of what makes typing more comfortable for you.
  4. Change up your keyboard-mouse combination. Something as simple as adding an external mouse to your laptop can help you change up how you type every once in a while. It’s also not a bad idea to consider ergonomic gear if you’re spending most of your day in front of the computer. If you’re willing to make a major change, it may even be worth considering an alternative keyboard layout, like the Dvorak keyboard.
  5. Take steps to cut back on your typing. While it can be difficult to reduce typing significantly, some web workers have successfully made text recognition software a part of their work routines. Efficiency tools, like TextExpander, may also help you cut out at least some of the repetitive typing in your day.

If you do have pain in your wrists or hands, it’s important to have a doctor check it out. The earlier a case of carpal tunnel syndrome can be caught, the easier it is to deal with. Other symptoms can include:

  • numbness or tingling sensations (including “pins and needles”) in fingers or thumbs
  • pain in your arms, shoulders and neck
  • poor circulation in hands wrists and fingers
  • loss of strength or coordination in your hands

Even if the symptoms are mild, they can be a wake up call that it’s time to start taking care of your wrists. There are steps that can be taken to reduce the problems carpal tunnel syndrome or repetitive strain injuries cause, but preventing them is worth the time and effort. After all, typing is a crucial ability for a web worker.

What steps do you take to keep your wrists healthy?

Image by Flickr user massdistraction

By Thursday Bram

You're subscribed! If you like, you can update your settings

  1. One word: Smartglove.

    Share
  2. I don’t know how some people can use a trackpad for prolonged periods of time. The weird angles are a recipe for disaster.

    At one point I would get tingly wrists which I figured was the onset of CTS but through diligent stretching and just general full-body wellness in the gym, I think it’s something you can easily overcome. But check out your body posture and layout cause I find that’s often the first thing that’s messing things up.

    Share
  3. Allissa Haines Tuesday, January 12, 2010

    See a massage therapist! A good practitioner will treat repetitive motion injuries and teach self-care techniques to maintain the integrity of the joint. CTS is rarely just a wrist issue, it often involves the musculature of the neck, shoulder and arm as well as the forearm and hand. Fast treatment and preventative measures are the key to avoiding the need for annoying braces or surgery.

    Share
  4. I’ve done forearm exercises such as holding a light weight (1 – 5 lbs) and, palm up, move your wrist in the full range of motion for 20 – 30 seconds. Then repeat palm face down. I have had no soreness or numbness in the last few years of working on a computer full-time.

    Share
  5. In wineries there are people in charge of turning the heads of the barrels at certain periods of time. Though its not typing, a lot of the people that hold these kind of jobs have similar pains in their wrists and forearms. A lot of them use what I use to relieve pain, its called the “Wrist Wand.” There are many versions of it. Essentially its a short bar or stick that is used to stretch those muscles a certain way.

    Share
  6. One thing I never under stood about carpal tunnel and typing, why doesn’t the same thing happen to concert pianists. They play the piano using the same methods as typing. They play longer and harder than most typists and yet do not usually suffer any of the same side effects and without any wrist supports. Maybe it’s their wrist positioning – up instead of down like most typists. Otherwise very good article. Keep It Up.

    John

    Share
  7. Changing things up is *vital*. I constantly switch between a mouse, trackball and pen tablet. Also, if you you a mac, AntiRSI is a must. It’s very annoying to be forced to take breaks (I hate interruptions) but in the long term it really helps.

    Share
  8. I have 8 hrs on work, 3-5hrs at home after worked.
    Sometime, my right arm seems loss of strength.

    Thanx all for your advices.

    John Archanfel

    Share
  9. Switch hands. I mouse with my right hand half the time and my left the other half. I’m left handed, and it took me a while to get used to mousing on the right, but it did help — I rarely get sore wrists now. I don’t switch the mouse buttons, so I end up using my middle finger to left-click with my left hand.

    Share

Comments have been disabled for this post