I have been typing and writing on a keyboard for as long as I can remember. It all started in the 9th grade when I took a high school typing class. It was on one of those old-fashioned Smith Corona typewriters. Then I moved on to a computer using word processing software. My very first job I was a clerk typist and crafted memos, letters and other correspondence. Eventually I moved to using a mouse giving my hands, fingers and wrist a break. But only to return to the keyboard after losing my vision. So, when I look back that is a lot of years banging and clanging on a keyboard. And you know there has got to be some wear and tear after all this time.
These days I am feeling pain. It all started with a small but consistent throb across the top of my right hand. Now it has moved to the bottom of my left wrist. I have not received a medical diagnosis however I am told this is all symptoms of Carpal tunnel. This is probably true. As a personal and professional writer what am I to do? How do I keep enjoying the thing I love the most and avoid pain? Here’s how I do it and you probably can too.
Use Wrist Guards
When I first noticed the pain, I ignored it like most people. I was thinking over time it would just naturally go away. I told myself just take more breaks and you’ll be fine. But we all know that is not how it works. When the pain got to be so bad my hands were throbbing at night disrupting my sleep, I got up and did something about it.
I purchased a right hand wrist guard. It covers the top of my hand to the middle of my arm. It decreases the pain exactly where the throbbing is located. It also covers my wrist keeping it stable. At first it was awkward and clunky to type with but over time things improved.
I noticed a change pretty quickly and could have kicked myself for not doing it sooner. So when the pain transferred to my left wrist I didn’t wait around. I got a wrist guard for my left and use that one too.
Exercising with Weights
During the pandemic I had a physical therapist come to my home to help with my right knee pain. She gave me exercises to alleviate the pain and also help with balancing and strength. I shared with her about my hand and wrist pain and she gave suggestions on what to do. She specifically told me to watch my movements to see why I was in pain and then adjust myself.
So, I began to notice How I used my hands and wrist a lot to pull up from a chair or to brace myself on a countertop. I began to stop doing that and the pain decreased. Sometimes to avoid pain it is about reviewing how your body moves and observing and correcting your posture.
Yesterday, April 18 was National Exercise Day. However, I exercise all the time, several days a week. One type of exercise I do is lifting weights. Now, I am not trying to be a body builder so I use small and light hand weights. I have noticed when I lift weights regularly my hand wrist and even elbows feel much better. I typically do a set of bicep curls. A variation of arm lifts, holding a weight in each hand and raising them above my head, then to the side, to the front and lastly to the back. I also do hand and finger strengthening exercises. I will stretch wide each finger and thumb. I will ball my hand in a fist and then gently release it and then I do a set of wrist rolls, turning clockwise and reverse to counterclockwise. All of these exercises keep the circulation flowing and help my hands and fingers feel better.
Purchase Mechanical Keyboard
Since I don’t use a mouse anymore the keyboard is an essential piece of equipment for writing. I learned about mechanical keyboards because they are great for writers, gamers or anyone else who types a lot. I purchased one and it has been a God sent. The keys are springy reducing the pressure on my fingers. I use a light touch and avoid pain.
Taking Computer Classes
The last thing I have done is take online computer classes. Now what does that have to do with wrist and hand pain? A lot. Over the years I have gotten sloppy with my typing and needed to tighten things up. I noticed the large amount of keystrokes I was doing were not necessary. All this extra movement and repetition was causing pain and discomfort. The classes instruct me to use shortcut keyboard commands. This allows for less keystrokes to accomplish the same task. I have also slowed down on my typing speed and paying more attention to what I am doing. Less errors means less pain.
Like I said I love writing. This means I had to make changes, and ever since I did I have avoided hand and wrist pain. Have you struggled with wrist and hand pain? If so, share your home remedies or tips.
2 thoughts on “It’s All in the Wrist: How I Avoid Hand and Wrist Pain as a Writer”
Mechanical keyboards rule! As words are my rice bowl, I’ve always made sure to study the tools of my craft: better keyboards, pens, word processors…
I’ve taken to using voice dictation lately too. The technology has improved so much in recent years, and I’ve found that I can sometimes draft with more than 80% accuracy, which is pretty danged good. Anyway, thanks for this post!
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Great idea. A blind friend called me the other day asking about voice dictation. She told me that Google sheets does a fairly good job. I need to investigate this more.