A few months ago I got the most excruciating pain in both of my wrists. It wasn’t a pain that came on gradually. It also was a pain that would not leave, no matter what I did, or didn’t do. One day I was fine, and the next, I couldn’t move my hands without feeling immense pain. I made an appointment with Dr. Cohen, a local hand specialist and he told me I had carpel tunnel in both wrists as well as severe tendonitis in one. He asked me what I had been doing recently. I said, “Well, I’ve been doing some online marketing for my business by posting on social media frequently from my phone, emailing and texting clients from my phone, writing blogs as well as doing a lot of design work on the computer.” He asked me if I took frequent breaks. “Um, no.” He asked me if I had my computer set up to avoid strain. “Again, no, I use a laptop with a trackpad.” I was beginning to see that I brought this pain on myself by not having a workspace that was set up correctly. I went through a few months of physical therapy, slept with a splint on each wrist and changed my ways. I took the doctor’s advise, stopped using my phone so much, and set up my desk to be more ergonomic, something that I should have done all along. Below are some simple changes I made that have kept me pain free.
1. Raise the monitor to eye level. This avoids strain on the neck and back. It’s important to keep the head and shoulders in a neutral position.
2. Lower the keyboard so that arms are at a 90º angle while typing. This will cause less fatigue in the arms and wrists because they will be in a neutral position. My desk did not have a pull out tray for a keyboard, so I had one custom made.
3. Use a vertical mouse. A standard computer mouse and trackpad makes you turn your wrist to be parallel with the desk. By using a vertical mouse, the wrist stays perpendicular to the desk, in a neutral position, avoiding strain.
4. Have a comfortable chair that allows you to keep your feet flat on the floor and your thighs and shins at 90º angles. Sitting this way will put less strain on the lower back. Use a lumbar support if necessary.
5. Get up every 20 – 30 minutes to walk and stretch. Working in short time bursts like this may actually help you stay focused. Subscribers to my newsletter also received an office yoga routine that can be done throughout the day to avoid strain and fatigue.
6. Stay hydrated! This keeps muscles and organs functioning their best while flushing out toxins that build up while sitting.
7. As for the phone, avoid texting with thumbs only. Whenever possible, do voice dictation texts. Holding the phone and constantly texting and posting on social media really strains the wrists and hands. Write and send emails from the computer or dictate them if you need to use the phone.
(This article is not meant to give medical advise. If you are having pain, please see your doctor.)
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