Repetitive strain injuries (RSIs) account for up to 60% of all occupational injuries in the United States. Among the most common RSIs, wrist pain is a prevalent issue faced by individuals who spend long hours typing on keyboards. The impact of this condition on productivity and well-being cannot be overlooked.
It is essential to address and effectively treat pain in your wrist to maintain a healthy and comfortable typing experience. What can you do though?
In this article, we will explore practical strategies and techniques to help you alleviate and manage wrist pain while typing. This will allow you to stay productive and safeguard your long-term wrist health. Keep reading to learn more.
Poor ergonomics is one of the main reasons you may experience wrist pain from typing. You want to ensure that your workstation is properly set up to minimize strain on your wrists.
Your keyboard should be at a height that allows your wrists to remain straight and level with your forearms. Rest your wrist on a cushioned pad to provide additional support.
Your chair and desk height should help you maintain a proper posture where the screen is at eye level. Your elbows need to be at a 90° angle.
Take Frequent Breaks
Taking breaks frequently is another way to reduce pain in your wrist from typing. You want to aim for a short break once every 30 minutes to give your wrists time to rest and recover.
During these breaks, you can perform stretching exercises (more on this below). This will help promote blood circulation and relieve tension in your wrists and forearm muscles.
What stretching exercises can you do when you experience pain from typing? Let’s take a look.
Fist to Fan Stretch
Start with your hand in a relaxed, neutral position. Slowly curl your fingers into a loose fist, then gradually open your hand and stretch your fingers wide, like a fan. Repeat this motion several times, focusing on the full range of motion.
Extend your arm in front of you, palm facing upward. Touch the tip of your thumb to the tip of each finger, one at a time, while keeping your fingers extended. Start with your index finger and work your way to your little finger.
Reverse the direction and touch the tip of your thumb to the base of each finger, starting from your little finger and moving toward your index finger.
Stand or sit comfortably with your arms extended in front of you. Make a loose fist with both hands and rotate your wrists in a circular motion, first in a clockwise direction, and then counterclockwise. Perform several rotations in each direction, focusing on smooth and controlled movements.
In addition to stretching exercises, it is essential to strengthen the muscles in your hands and wrists to prevent and manage pain. Strengthening exercises can help improve stability and support for your wrists.
Consider the following exercises.
Hold a light dumbbell or a water bottle in your hand, palm facing up. Slowly curl your wrist upward, bringing the weight towards your forearm. Pause for a moment, then lower it back down.
Repeat for 10-15 repetitions and switch to the other hand.
Squeeze a stress ball or a softball in your hand, holding the squeeze for a few seconds before releasing it. Repeat this exercise multiple times on both hands.
Place a rubber band around your fingers, then open and close your fingers against the resistance of the band. Perform this exercise for several repetitions.
Use Proper Writing Technique
When you write, you want to also ensure that you use proper writing techniques.
Your wrists should be straight and not flexed while typing. Strike the keys gently without too much force. Your keyboard needs to be positioned slightly lower than your elbows, allowing your arms to rest comfortably.
Some keyboards that use ergonomics are designed to help reduce pain in your wrist too. You could also pick yourself up wrist splints or braces since they’ll provide additional support during typing sessions. This is especially trust if you suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome.
More on Ergonomic Keyboards and Accessories
As noted, ergonomic keyboards and accessories can alleviate wrist pain. This is because ergonomic keyboards are designed to promote a more natural hand and wrist position.
Search for keyboards with a split or curved design. There are also ergonomic mice that will provide added support, especially for those extended typing sessions.
If you have a data entry job, a numeric keypad may work in your favor. Some keyboards have a numeric keypad section, but there’s no way to detach it. With a standalone numeric keypad, you’ll be a lot more comfortable when performing the task at hand (pun intended).
Implement Workstation Modifications
In addition to ergonomic keyboards and mice, there are workstation modifications that will work in your favor if you’re experiencing pain from typing.
Pay close attention to your mouse technique. Avoid gripping the mouse too tightly and use smooth, gliding movements with your entire arm rather than relying solely on wrist movement.
An adjustable chair and desk will do wonders to ensure proper alignment in your wrists, elbows, and shoulders. Study shows the many benefits of standing desks, and it’s always nice to have the option, isn’t it?
You could also use an adjustable keyboard tray so that you can get the perfect angle and ideal height for your wrists.
A monitor stand will allow you to get the correct position and set your screen at eye level. This will help prevent excessive neck and wrist flexion.
If you experience severe wrist pain or have been diagnosed with conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome, your healthcare provider may recommend wearing a splint. Splints provide support and immobilization to the wrist, reducing stress on the affected area. Follow your healthcare provider’s guidance regarding the type of splint and duration of use.
Apply Topical Pain Relief
For temporary relief, try applying a topical ointment, cream, or gel. Look for ingredients like menthol, camphor, or capsaicin. These ingredients provide a cooling or warming sensation that can help soothe the affected area and reduce discomfort.
Ice and Heat Therapy
Wrist pain can happen at a moment’s notice. For immediate relief from acute pain, use ice or a cold pack. This will help reduce inflammation and swelling in the wrist area.
Take a thin cloth and put an ice pack and apply to the wrist or hand for 10-15 minutes. You could also use heat therapy by using a warm compress. This can help your muscles relaxes and promote blood flow.
These tools are especially useful if you suffer from chronic wrist pain.
Maintain Overall Fitness
You might not think it at first, but maintaining your overall health and fitness can help alleviate certain types of wrist pain. When you regularly exercise, you improve blood circulation, strengthen muscles, and reduce the risk of repetitive strain injuries.
Go for what interests you. We recommend engaging in activities like swimming, yoga, or pilates because they promote flexibility and strengthen your core. Your posture and alignment will be much better off too.
Incorporate Anti-Inflammatory Foods
Some foods are anti-inflammatory. These foods will help support joint health and alleviate hand pain.
Here are a few to get started:
- Fatty fish
- Leafy green vegetables
- Nuts and seeds
The fatty fish we recommend are salmon, mackerel, or sardines. This is because they’re rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Tumeric contains an anti-inflammatory compound called curcumin.
Berries such as blueberries and cherries are known for their antioxidant properties. When choosing leafy greens, we recommend spinach and kale since they’re dense with vitamins and minerals.
Nuts and seeds like almonds and flax seeds will provide your body with healthy fats as well as anti-inflammatory compounds.
Monitor Typing Technique
Being mindful of your typing technique is crucial in preventing wrist pain. Keep the following tips in mind.
You want to avoid excessive force while striking the keys. Instead, focus on light and precise keystrokes. Be sure to type with a relaxed and neutral posture, ensuring your wrists and hands are not strained or flexed.
Modify Keyboard Settings
Customizing your keyboard settings can provide additional relief for your wrists. Adjusting the key sensitivity and repeat rate can reduce the need for forceful keystrokes and minimize unnecessary strain. You can typically find these settings in your computer’s control panel or system preferences.
Experiment with different settings to find what feels most comfortable for you.
Try Alternative Input Methods
Sometimes the pain in your wrist won’t go away or it’ll worsen. When this happens, it’s best to seek out alternative input methods.
One of the best ways is to use speech-to-text software. It may take some getting used to at first, but many people swear by its speed and accuracy. Just be sure to comb over the results to look for spelling and grammar errors.
Using your voice combined with an ergonomic mouse is a setup we’d highly recommend. If you’ve never done it before, give it a try and see what you think. The feeling and results may surprise you.
Practice Mindfulness and Stress Reduction
The pain in your wrist may also be due to tension or stress. When this happens, it’s wise to take a step back and incorporate mindfulness into your life.
Consider deep breathing exercises, meditation, or tai chi. These practices will make you feel more relaxed and reduce your overall stress levels. You won’t be so reactionary and can go with the flow and be more like water in your life.
Maintain a Balanced Lifestyle
You’ll want to maintain a well-balanced lifestyle, too (including wrist health). Be sure to get enough rest and sleep, and prioritize nutrition.
Along with the anti-inflammatory foods we mentioned earlier, you’ll also want to stay hydrated. This will help you maintain healthy tissues.
If you have trouble maintaining this habit, keep a water bottle on your desk as a reminder. You could even set an alarm on your phone.
Maintain a Healthy Body Weight
Excess weight can put additional strain on your joints, including the wrists. Maintaining a healthy body weight can help reduce stress on your wrists and prevent or alleviate pain. Incorporate regular exercise into your routine, focus on a balanced diet, and consult with a healthcare professional or nutritionist for personalized guidance.
Seek Physical Therapy
If wrist pain persists or significantly affects your daily activities, consider seeking the help of a physical therapist. A physical therapist can assess your condition, provide targeted exercises and stretches, and employ specialized techniques to promote healing and alleviate pain. They can also guide you on proper body mechanics and ergonomics.
Regularly Assess and Adjust
As your needs and work environment may change over time, it is important to regularly reassess your typing setup and techniques. Make adjustments as necessary to ensure that your workstation remains ergonomic and supportive of your wrists.
Regularly checking in with your body and addressing any discomfort promptly can prevent the development of chronic wrist issues.
Consult a Healthcare Professional for Pain in Your Wrist
Don’t let the pain in your wrist hinder your typing experience or affect your productivity. By following these strategies and taking proactive measures to prioritize your wrist health, you can effectively manage and alleviate pain associated with typing.
Remember, prevention and early intervention are crucial to maintaining healthy wrists, so implement these practices consistently to enjoy pain-free and comfortable typing sessions.
If your wrist pain persists or worsens despite implementing these measures, it is advisable to consult with one of our healthcare professionals. They can provide specific guidance, recommend exercises tailored to your condition, and offer additional treatments like ultrasound therapy or massage. Don’t hesitate and schedule an appointment today.