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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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