The Writer’s Guide to Avoiding Carpal Tunnel

For writers, carpal tunnel can, unfortunately, be a common reality. Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is caused by compression of the median nerve as it passes through the front of the wrist. Over time, this compression can lead to constant numbness, burning or pain. Weak hand muscles can contribute to the condition, as can arthritis. If you’re a writer, here are some tips to help you make sure that you don’t fall victim to this inconvenient condition.

Carpal Tunnel: A Writer’s Worst Nightmare

Writers can spend hours at their keyboards, and many may find that they don’t do a good job of monitoring their posture, wrist position, or any pain they may be experiencing. CTS worsens with time, and without treatment, you can find yourself unable to perform the basic duties of your occupation as a writer. As soon as you notice pain or fatigue, break away from the keyboard for some simple stretches to reduce pressure on the median nerve.

Stretch Your Wrists and Arms Frequently

There are simple stretches you can do at your desk to lessen the risk of CTS. Performing a gentle wrist bend for five seconds, both up and down until you feel the stretch in your forearm, is a great way to give your wrist rest and provide a break for your brain.

Another easy exercise you can do from a seated position is to press your hands together in prayer position directly in front of your sternum. Lower your pressed palms until you feel the stretch in your wrist, and hold this for five seconds. You can also stand and press your palms flat on the table in front of you. Gently lean forward with your arms straight so that your shoulders extend to the ends of your fingertips or until you feel a stretch in your wrists.

Increase Your Hand Strength

People with weak hands are more prone to developing CTS. Simply stretching your fingers and then grasping them tight into a hard fist is a great way to strengthen your hands. Do this for one minute, then shake your hands out for another minute.

If you walk on the track for any part of your workout, try to carry a hand weight with you for a lap or two, then set it down and shake out your hands for a lap. As you do these exercises, make sure to take a stretch break to both ease tension in the wrist and loosen up the newly worked hand muscles.

Use a Timer

Writers like to get in the zone or lose themselves in the document they’re working on. Unfortunately, this can lead to several hours in a chair before you realize that you really should move your body and stretch your hands and wrists. Many cell phones have a clock feature that includes a timer. Set this timer to go off in an hour and put it across the room so that you have to get up and turn it off. If you’ve got wrist problems, taking a break is critical.

CTS impacts more than just your writing time. You may find that your hand hurts or goes numb. It may feel cold no matter how warm the rest of your body feels. Over time, you may lose gripping strength or start to have problems with dexterity. Take care of your wrists on a daily basis to reduce your risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome.

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