I've been writing like a maniac for nearly two years. Yes, picture me, Krystal Wade, sitting at a keyboard, hair a matted mess atop my head, bloodshot eyes, pencil in mouth, skin pale—nice image, huh?
Anyway, within these two years, I've written three novels, a bunch of ideas for future novels, half a future novel, a ton of blog posts, interviews, and I constantly communicate online with other writers, publishers, etc.
So tell me why my hand hurts?!
I feel like an idiot for even questioning this intense pain. But admitting the stabbing, popping, pinching sensations—yes, the feelings change depending on how I'm using my hand—exist means I have to admit that writing may be bad for my health.
Say it isn't so.
Alas, it's true. Just google "Repetitive Motion Injuries" and you'll find a bunch of stomach-turning information.
Can this be prevented?
Why, yes. Yes it can.
Did I do what I was supposed to?
So, to protect you guys from this soul-crushing injury, I've listed 10 Steps to Prevent Repetitive Motion Injuries in your hands. While you're reading, I'll be contemplating a trip to the doctor.
- TAKE BREAKS! when using your computer. Every hour or so, get up and walk around, get a drink of water, stretch whatever muscles are tight, and look out the window at a far off object (to rest your eyes).
- Good posture. If you can't hold good posture, it probably means it's time for you to take a break from typing. If you are perpetually struggling to maintain good posture, you probably need to adjust your workstation or chair, or develop some of the support muscles necessary for good posture.
- Use an ergonomically optimized workstation to reduce strain on your body.
- Exercise regularly. Include strengthening, stretching, and aerobic exercises. I find yoga and Pilates especially helpful.
- Only use the computer as much as you have to. Don't email people when you could walk down the hall or pick up the phone and talk to them. It's not only better for your hands - it's friendlier. Think before you type to avoid unnecessary editing.
- Don't stretch for the hard-to-reach keys, e.g. BACKSPACE, ENTER, SHIFT, CONTROL... basically everything but the letters. Instead, move your entire hand so that you may press the desired key with ease.
- Let your hands float above the keyboard when you type, and move your entire arm when moving your mouse or typing hard-to-reach keys, keeping the wrist joint straight at all times. This lets the big muscles in your arm, shoulder, and back do most of the work, instead of the smaller, weaker, and more vulnerable muscles in your hand and wrist. If you find it difficult to do this, then your shoulder and back muscles are probably too weak. It is OK, and in fact a good idea, to rest your elbows/wrists when you are not typing.
- Use two hands to type combination key strokes, such as those involving the SHIFT and CONTROL keys.
- When writing, avoid gripping the writing utensil tightly. Someone should be able to easily pull the writing utensil out of your hand when you are writing. If your pen or pencil requires you to press too hard, get a new one (my favorite is Dr. Grip Gel Ink)
- Realize that you are not invincible. RSI can happen to you. Don't be afraid to ask for help.
(Thank you to http://web.eecs.umich.edu/~cscott/rsi.html##ten for providing these tips!)
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