While there are no “proven” methods for preventing carpal tunnel syndrome, there are plenty of ways in which we can ensure that the effects of any repetitive stress placed upon the hands, arms, neck and shoulders from continued computer use is reduced. To help protect your hands from a variety of ailments, take the following precautions:
Relax your grip
Most people use more force than necessary to perform any given task with their hands. If your work involves a computer, try tapping the keys softly. If handwriting, use a oversized pen with a soft grip adapter and free-flowing ink. This allows you to write with ease, requiring no pressing or tight gripping.
Take frequent breaks
Give your hands and wrists a break too. When you stop down from working for a bathroom break or a glass of water, try gently stretching your tight, overused muscles. Also, try alternating your tasks as much as possible. Stretching, done gently and slowly can be a great way to start your day, before those tasks which can tax your hands and arms. Here is an informative video we found, demonstrating some excellent exercises to keep your hands feeling refreshed during a long day of texting and computer use.
See our blog on Muscle Strain and Fatigue from Computer Use for more tips.
Watch your form
When working, avoid bending your wrist all the way up or down. A relaxed position somewhere in the middle is best. If you use a keyboard, keep it at elbow height or lower.
If your work demands that you spend a great deal of your time on the computer, be sure and invest a little bit more to keep your body from taking the increased wear and tear. Ergonomic workstations and equipment abound — from keyboards, arm rests and your mouse to chairs and computer platforms there is something for every one. You’ll be amazed at what relief ergonomics can bring to your life.
Improve your posture
Rolled shoulders are an indicator of poor posture. When your shoulders are in this position, your neck and shoulder muscles are shortened, which in turn compresses nerves in your neck, affecting your wrists, fingers and hands. Make sure that when you are standing your shoulders are rolled back leaving your palms touching the sides of your legs. If your palms face backwards it’s a good bet your shoulders are rolled forward, hunching your overall posture. When sitting and working at a terminal: your feet should be touching the floor, arms relaxed, eyes straight ahead and shoulders back and relaxed, your tushie pushed out to ensure proper spinal posture and to keep your from slouching.
You’re more likely to develop pain and stiffness working in a cold environment. If temperature controls are out of your reach, try fingerless gloves to keep your hands and wrists warm.
In addition to optimizing your workspace, taking breaks and stretching properly, remember, that massage is great way to keep your muscles relaxed and flexible and to work out any stress or tightness before it becomes an issue.