If you rely on writing – longhand or keyboard – for your livelihood or pleasure, you need to know how to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome. Writers, don’t set yourself up for unnecessary health issues in the future!
The best way to prevent carpal tunnel is to wear a wrist brace regularly, such as the PerfectFit Wrist Support pictured.
I wear a wrist brace when I’m walking my dogs, doing non-soapy housework, and driving. It gives the muscles of my hands, wrist, and arm a break by providing support and rest. The best wrist brace to prevent carpal tunnel for writers is one we can wear while typing or writing, but I haven’t been able to find one that suits me yet. I need freedom while I type!
A couple years ago I offered a few tips on avoiding carpal tunnel syndrome for writers because of my mother-in-law’s hand and arm surgery. It was a long, painful recovery, and even now she doesn’t have the full use of her right arm.
The following tips are what I’ve learned about preventing repetitive strain injury since then. First, though, a few facts about carpal tunnel…
Carpal tunnel syndrome is one of the most common causes of claims for workers’ injury compensation, coming second only to lower back pain. Women are at three times greater risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome compared to men. It occurs at any age, but is more common in people over 50 years old.
Carpal tunnel is caused by squeezing of the median nerve as it passes through the wrist to the hand. This nerve is contained in the carpal tunnel, a narrow channel just above the wrist. In carpal tunnel syndrome, the channel starts to shrink, compressing the nerve and causing inflammation. The result is hand pain, numbness, tingling, and sometimes, hand weakness or restricted movement.
Treatments for carpal tunnel syndrome include pain medication, corticosteroids to reduce swelling and relieve pain, and surgery in extreme cases. See why it’s so important to learn how to avoid carpal tunnel injuries?!
Tips on How to Prevent Carpal Tunnel
I’ve noticed the beginnings of tightness in my forearm (my energy-focused massage therapist told me not to focus on “preventing carpal tunnel” because then I’m focusing on the problem, not the solution. Instead, she recommends focusing on stretching and releasing my hands and arms, and feeling light and loose and free).
Following are the things I’ve noticed that have helped relieve my hand and arm tension. Caveat emptor (buyer beware – ‘cause I’m no doctor!).
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Play a musical instrument – I play the flute. One of the best ways to prevent carpal tunnel is to use your wrist and hand muscles in different ways. Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by repetitive strain to your muscles – the repetition of muscle movements causes median nerve problems. If you use your hand and wrist in different ways, you’ll relieve the pressure. When I first started playing the flute two years ago, I thought I’d exacerbate my hand and wrist. On the contrary, my flute seems to have eased the pressure and is helping prevent carpal tunnel. Writers, this is your chance to learn a new art form!
Switch keyboards halfway through your writing time. I have a laptop and a separate wireless keyboard. I also have a stand-up desk, though I’m not sure this helps with repetitive strain. It’s the switching keyboards that helps writers prevent carpal tunnel, because it gives our wrists and hands a chance to move and work differently. Get a Wireless Touch Keyboard with a built-in Multi-Touch Touchpad – the touchpad instead of a mouse (which I have to stop using!) allows your wrist and hand to move in different ways.
Get hand massages regularly – nightly, if possible. You can massage your own hands, wrist, and arms but it feels much better when someone else does it for you. Nightly “prevent carpal tunnel” massages will keep your nerves and tunnels loose and happy.
Get full body massages regularly. When was the last time you had a full body massage? I can’t wait until my husband’s extended medical health coverage kicks in (hopefully in a week or two), because I’ve been dying for a full body massage. I can’t afford to pay a registered massage therapist, but I use up all our massage benefits when we have coverage.
Do yoga. Downward dog is a particularly good stretch for the hands, wrists, and arms – and so is the crab yoga exercise that I can’t recall the name of. The one where you sit on your butt, put your hands behind you with your fingers facing you, then lift your bummy off the floor. I also like the wheelbarrow stretch. These particular exercises aren’t the only way to prevent carpal tunnel for writers – the idea is to stretch your hands, wrists, and arms. And, hold those stretches for at least 10 seconds.
If you’re not the healthiest writer on the block, read 5 Fitness Tips for Writers.
What have I missed? Please share your tips on how to prevent carpal tunnel for writers – I the more we know, the stronger we are!
If you’re struggling with carpal tunnel symptoms (such as numbness or tingling sensation in the fingers, loss of feeling in thumb, index, and middle finger, hands falling asleep, aching shoulders and neck, pain radiating up forearm, hand and/or wrist pain, poor circulation in hands, wrists, and fingers, loss of hand grip strength, or clumsiness of hands), talk to your doctor as soon as possible. Don’t let the symptoms get out of control.
I welcome your thoughts on how to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome for writers below. Happy writing!