If you spend a lot of time at your desk in front of the computer, you may be concerned about repetitive stress injuries to your wrists. There are many different types of wrist RSI, including tendonitis, bursitis, and carpal tunnel syndrome.
Here are a few things you can do to help protect yourself against wrist RSI.
- Cover the basics. That includes maintaining an appropriate weight, eating a healthy, balanced diet, and getting regular cardiovascular exercise. Unhealthy habits cause stress all over the body!
- Keep your arm, wrist, and hand muscles in shape. If those areas are already active and strong, it will be harder to injure them through overuse or misuse. Strengthen your muscles and work on your flexibility.
- Learn to keep your wrist straight. In your arm’s natural/neutral position, the wrist is straight and the palm is at an angle between 30 and 45 degrees. Keep this position whenever possible! Too much flexing and twisting can strain your joints.
- Take regular breaks throughout the day — at least ten minutes of stretching and movement for every hour that you work. This will relieve stress, give your mind a break, and give your joints a chance to stretch out!
- Change positions while you work. Every time you move, you activate different muscle groups in your hands, arms, and back. (And other parts of the body!)
- Use an appropriately sized grip for the things you hold. Let your hand go into a neutral position, then separate your thumb and fingers by about two inches. This is your grip size for holding things like handrails or power tools. Close your hand until your thumb overlays the first joint of your index finger. This is your grip size for tools you manipulate with your wrist, like screw drivers.
- Keep your hands a moderate distance from your body — not too close and not too far. This will allow the muscles in your arms, shoulders, back, and torso to help share the load. Keeping a moderate distance also increases blood flow to the joints.
- Don’t flex your wrists upward to work. The hand is designed to grip downward — this is how the majority of your joint flexibility and muscle control is set up. You have less leverage on an upward flex.