PREVENTING REPETITIVE STRAIN AT THE KEYBOARDComfortable computing for your wrists and handsWalking Miles at the Keyboards
Does your job include typing rapidly on a computer keyboard? If it does, you may touch keys up to 200(000 times a day - the equivalent of your fingers walking 16 kilometres. This means you continually repeat small movements in your wrists and hands, increasing the odds of repetitive strain injury (RSI).Uncomfortable Computing
Awkward posture while keyboarding, poorly positioned equipment and furniture and typing or sitting in the same position for hours can add to wear and tear on your wrists and hands. And, like favourite shoes that are worn from walking, overuse of your wrists and hands can lead to uncomfortable keyboarding. The result: tired wrists and hands - and possible strains and pains - unless you take steps to prevent them.Creating Computer Comfort
Preventing tired wrists and hands is really a matter of taking charge of your posture and computer work environment. How? Learn the best way to hold your wrists and hands. Then practise adjusting the equipment and furniture in your work area so that you don't overwork your wrists and hands. When you have developed the right partnership between you and your workstation, your wrists and hands will usually feel fine, even at the end of a busy workday.Keyboard Posture
If your fingers do a lot of "keyboard walking," straight wrists, hands and back posture at the keyboard are the keys to your ongoing comfort. When you've found the right position, your muscles and back are "unstressed" and flexible, so your wrists and hands don't have to overwork.Keeping Your Wrists and Hands Straigh
Each time you touch a key, nerves ("electrical messengers") tell muscles and tendons in your wrists and hands that they're needed to help you move your fingers. When you work with straight wrists and fingers, these nerves, muscles and tendons stay relaxed and comfortable. So, they're less likely to develop the strains and pains that may all be associated with keyboarding.
A straight wrist is a level, flat wrist. This position keeps extra pressure off muscles, tendons and nerves in your wrist and hand.
Flexing your wrist forward can strain muscles and tendons.
Extending your wrist backward strains muscles and tendons.
Twisting your wrist to the side strains nerves and tendons.Sitting Up Straight
Your posture at your workstation affects the position of your wrists and hands. Why? If you lean your body forward (flexion) or backward (extension), or if you slouch, your wrists and hands adapt by becoming flexed or extended, too. This means that the nerves, muscles and tendons that support your wrists and hands become tense and strained.
Ideal posture includes sitting straight in your chair, muscles relaxed, with your body tilted slightly back.Comfortable Computing
If you want to keep your wrists and hands comfortable and injury-free at the keyboard, there's no better time to start than now. To begin, check the position of your wrists, hands and back. Then arrange your workspace and use workstation props so that you can work without straining your wrists and hands.Check Your Posture
At first, obtaining good posture may mean being continually aware of your posture at the keyboard. Your goal: keyboarding with straight wrists, relaxed fingers and straight posture until it becomes second nature.
Sit up straight, facing the computer straight on.
Hold your head at a slight downward tilt to avoid straining muscles in your neck and shoulders.
Keep hands and wrists straight while keyboarding.
Touch your keys lightly by keeping your wrists and fingers relaxed.
Keep your feet flat and pointed toward the workstation.Adjust Your Workstation
How will you know if your office furniture is adjusted to meet your needs? First, you'll be able to maintain a straight wrist, hand and back posture easily. What else? At the end of the workday, you won't feel aches and pains.
Adjust keyboard tray or desk height so that your wrists and hands are straight while keyboarding.
Adjust chair height and seat back so that you can keyboard with straight wrists and hands.
Adjust screen height so that the top of it is at about your eye level.
Position your keyboard so that your wrists and forearms are straight.Use Workstation Props
If you're unable to work comfortably with straight wrists after adjusting your furniture, try using props you've purchased or made. Props can help keep your wrists, hands and back straight - and your muscles relaxed.
A telephone headset helps to keep your head upright and your body straight.
A copy stand should be the same height at the screen, to keep you from straining your neck or head.
A wrist rest can support your wrists and keep them straight.
A lower back pad, such as a pillow or rolled-up towel, can help support your lower back.
A mouse pad should allow the mouse to float friction-free over it, requiring little effort.Releasing Tension
Your wrists and hands talk. When they're tense from repeated strain, they communicate stiffness and soreness. You can release tension build-up by exercising at least once every hour - even while you're at your desk. And when you're at home, avoid repeating wrist and hand motions you do at work.In Your Wrists and Hands
Stretching. Place your hands out in front of you. The spread your fingers as far apart as possible. Hold for five seconds. Relax. Repeat five times.
Rotating. Rotate your wrists, keeping your fingers relaxed and your elbows still. First turn your palms up, then rotate them down. Repeat five times.
Shaking. Let you hands dangle from your wrists. Then shake your hands, first up and down, then sideways. Repeat until tension in your hands is gone.In Your Body
Reaching. Place your arms over your head. With your fingers stretched, reach toward the ceiling. Hold for five seconds, then relax. Repeat five times.
Rolling. Using a wide circular motion, roll your shoulders backward. Repeat five times.
Shifting. While sitting, move around in your chair. Slouch and slump, look away from the screen, dangle your arms. Repeat as often as necessary.At Work
Moving around whenever possible can help ward off tension. Some guidelines:
Walk to the printer to retrieve work you've printed out.
Be sure to take any breaks that are recommended by your company's policy.
Exercise your legs by rotating your ankles, whenever possible.
Extend your legs while sitting to increase circulation.
Force a yawn to relax facial muscles and to release tension in other parts of your body.At Home
When you're at home, try to avoid repeating the same movements you use at work. Some tips:
Be physical by getting involved with a favorite activity, such as playing ball.
Stretch and relax your hands and body whenever you get a free moment.
Exercise aerobically by walking or swimming.
See your doctor if you have ongoing discomfort in your wrists and hands.Shaping Your Environmen
From your chair to your keyboard, you can adjust most parts of your work environment so that your wrists and hands remain comfortable while you work. Remember: It takes just a few small adjustments in your equipment and posture to make a big difference in your comfort at the keyboard.