Next to the feet our hands are among the most hard used parts of the body, so it’s not surprising that many bloggers take mobile hands and wrists for granted — until they hurt. Many of us rely heavily on computers to help us perform our work – for some, dedicated computer work is necessary, while others multi-task throughout the day. Taking preventative measures against developing problems with your wrists and hands due to computer use makes a lot of sense and takes little time or effort.
Updated November 25, 2014.
Repetitive hand and wrist movement
The hands and the wrist have muscles and joints that are prone to arthritis and carpal tunnel syndrome. Arthritis is acute or chronic inflammation of joints, usually accompanied by pain and stiffness, resulting from infection, trauma, degenerative changes, autoimmune disease, or other causes. Carpal tunnel syndrome is a painful progressive condition caused by the compression of the key nerve within the wrist sue to swelling that can occur if you do repetitive movements with your wrist such as typing on a computer keyboard, using a computer mouse, playing racquetball or handball, sewing, painting, writing, or using a vibrating tool.
Symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome
The carpal tunnel is a narrow channel formed by carpal bones on three sides the thick, inelastic carpal ligament on the fourth that runs through the inner side of the wrist. Tendons inside that tunnel run parallel the extremely fragile median nerve. Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the median nerve, which runs from the forearm into the palm of the hand, becomes pressed or squeezed at the wrist.
- Numbness or tingling in your hand and fingers, especially the thumb, index and middle fingers.
- Pain in your wrist, palm or forearm.
- More numbness or pain at night than during the day. The pain may be so bad it wakes you up. You may shake or rub your hand to get relief.
- Pain that increases when you use your hand or wrist more.
- Trouble gripping objects, such as a doorknob or the steering wheel of a car.
- Weakness in your thumb.
7 Basic tips for upper body, hand and wrist health for bloggers
- Maintain upright posture. Your back should be straight and the top of your monitor should be level with your eyes. If you have to look down or up, then you need to adjust the height of your screen.
- Put the keyboard on a flat surface and adjust your chair so the armrests are low enough that you do not shrug your shoulders and high enough that you do not have to slump to rest your elbows on the armrests.
- Adjust the height of your chair so that your forearms are level with your keyboard and you don’t have to flex your wrists to type.
- Adjust your keyboard so that you do not have to bend your wrist upward while typing.
- Use a thin profile keyboard and/or a palm rest to support the heel of the hand. When your hands are resting on the keyboard, make sure they are in a straight line with the forearm.
- Take microbreaks at 20-30 min intervals.
- Do hand and wrist exercises periodically throughout the day.
Ergonomics experts say most RSIs (repetitive strain injuries) result from excessive keyboard use. Stretches every 20 to 30 minutes can keep your upper body, hands and wrists loose and help prevent injuries.
5 of the best exercises for keyboarding microbreaks while seated
- Shoulder Blade Squeeze is performed by raising your forearms and pointing your hands to the ceiling. Push your arms back, squeezing your shoulder blades together. Hold for at least 5 seconds and repeat 3 times.
- Eye Palming is performed by placing your elbows on your desk, cup your hands, close your eyes, and place your eyelids gently down onto your palms. Hold this position for 1 minute while breathing deeply and slowly. Then uncover your eyes slowly.
- Arm and Shoulder Shake–drop your hands to your sides then shake your relaxed hands, arms, and shoulders gently for at least 5 seconds and repeat 3 times.
- Spanning–place you arms straight in front of you and spread your fingers as far as possible for at least 5 seconds and repeat 5 times. This exercise was made famous by career pianists. With the arms extended in front of you, spanning can be combined with a forearm extensor stretch.
- Forearm Extensor Stretch, continue spanning and extend that exercise by turning the hands so that their backs touch then, turning them so that the palms face the ceiling (“Forearm Flexor Stretch”).
6 hand and wrist exercises bloggers can do anywhere
1. Circles – Stretch both arms outwards with fingers together and draw a circle with your hands, rotating them at the wrist. Five circles in one direction, then five in the opposite direction.
2. Curls – Curling your wrists will increase flexibility. Hold one arm outward palm facing down. Drop the hand downward at the wrist. Using the palm of the opposite hand, apply pressure to the back of the dropped hand. Hold pressure for five seconds, then relax. Repeat three times for each hand.
3. Wrist rotation – Rotating your wrists will increase motion range. Begin by making a fist. Then slowly rotate your wrists. Rotate both the fists together ten times in the clockwise direction and ten times in the anticlockwise direction. Do ensure that only your fists are rotating and the rest of your arms are stationery.
4. Wrist extension – Hold one arm outward palm facing down. Raise the hand up as though you were telling someone to stop. Using the opposite hand, apply pressure to the palm of the raised hand. Hold pressure for five seconds, then relax. Repeat for a total of three times per hand.
5. Thumb stretches – Place your hand in a position similar to the wrist extension, gently apply pressure using the other hand to the extended thumb in a back and downward direction. Hold for five seconds and relax. Repeat this three times per hand.
6. Hand and finger stretch – Stretching your fingers will lead to relaxing your hands. Begin by making a fist. Then stretch and spread out your fingers as far out as possible. Hold that position for a couple of minutes. Repeat this exercise 5-10 times.
“The Complete Hand Workout” DVD teaches intermediate Finger Fitness exercises using an aerobic follow along dance style. Finger Fitness is an exercise concept developed by Greg Irwin to help improve the strength, dexterity and coordination of your hands. It is great for musicians, typists, athletes, video gamers etc.
The Dance #2 video from the DVD “The Complete hand Workout” will give you an idea of what the aerobic style finger fitness exercises are like. For more information about Greg Irwin or Finger Fitness visit http://www.HandHealth.com
Hand Exercises for Rheumatoid Arthritis – 7 hand-stretching exercises to ease rheumatoid arthritis symptoms.
Slide show: Hand exercises for people with arthritis – Hand exercises may help improve muscle strength and joint range of motion in people who have arthritis. You can do hand exercises daily or, preferably, several times a day.
This summer I had hands and wrists that hurt (arthritis and carpal tunnel syndrome). I took some time away from the keyboard. I made some ergonomic adjustments to my chair and my keyboard positioning. When I returned to the keyboard I began a hand and wrist exercise routine that I now practice throughout the day when I’m working online.
How much time do you spend at the keyboard before taking a microbreak ?
Do you have shoulders, arms, hands and/or wrists that hurt?
Do you do any exercises like the ones recommended above?
Related post: 5 Ways To Avoid The Ill Effects Of Blogging