According to the National Center for Health Statistics, carpal tunnel syndrome results in the highest number of days lost among all work related injuries. Almost half of the carpal tunnel cases result in 31 days or more of work loss.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, and other repetitive stress related injuries affect hundreds of thousands of American workers each year, and cost the American economy billions of dollars. If you work extensively with computers, or engage with other machines or activities that require extensive use of your hands, fingers, arms and wrists you could be at risk for developing just such an injury.
In order to protect yourself from this possibility, you can use the following quick tips to protect yourself from wrist injury.
1. Stay Healthy
By maintaining a healthy body weight and a good cardiovascular system you decrease your chances of experiencing an injury.Â An unhealthy body causes stress to all of your physical systems and limbs. If you add to that stress any additional environmental stress, you are more likely to develop a problem.
2. Stay Strong
By regularly strengthening the muscles in your hands, wrists, fingers and arms you make yourself less likely to suffer a repetitive stress injury. It is harder to overuse any part of your arm if it is used to being worked hard and often. Simple stretching exercises can help you increase your arm muscles and flexibility.
3. Donâ€™t Break the Wrist
You should become familiar with the proper positioning of your forearm and wrist in all aspects of The Ergonomics Equation. By holding your wrist in a neutral position with your arm straight, your palm at a 30-45 degree angle while typing and your fingers curled.
4. Take Regular Breaks
Another important part of The Ergonomics Equation is making time for important restorative rest periods. Taking the time to stretch your muscles provides your body a much needed break and increases the blood flow throughout your limbs. You should break for at least ten minutes following every hour of continuous work.
5. Maintain Proper Distance
When you are working with your hands, typing on a keyboard for instance, you should keep them a comfortable distance from your bodyâ€”not too far and not too close. Holding your arms mid-distance from your body allows your arms, shoulders and core to help share the burden placed on your wrists. Using high quality keyboard trays can help you accomplish this type of optimal working distance.
6. Donâ€™t Pivot At The Extremes
While it may be true that your arms can pivot to wide angles, this does not mean that you should exert your muscles and joints to extremes. While working you should avoid flexing your joints to the edges of your range of motion. Doing so could lead to muscle extensions and muscle pulls.
7. Avoid Flexing Your Wrist Upwards
The hand is designed and structured to grip. For this reason, most of our natural muscle control and joint range is aimed in a downward flex. Flexing upward can significantly strain the tendons and nerves in the hand. You should try and always keep you palms, fingers and wrist in a neutral position, somewhere between flat and grip orientation.
When typing and clicking your computer mouse you should avoid as many upstrokes as possible. Using the scroll wheel that is standard on most computer mice to cruise through documents requires a nearly continual upward motion and flex, and should be avoided.