“The hand is the visible part of the brain.”
– Immanuel Kant
For so many of us this resonates greatly. Sometimes we might find ourselves in a situation, work-related or not, in which we must express ourselves via the written word – and by written word, I mean ‘typed’. After all, it is the 21st century and a typing machine is just much more practical these days. However, even technological advances have their pitfalls from time to time. As many of us know, the repetitive task of typing might increase the risk of developing carpal tunnel, or any other related musculoskeletal disorder, over time. According to the U.S Department of Labor, repetitive strain injuries are the nation’s most common and costly occupational health problem, affecting hundreds of thousands of American Workers.
Just the other day I came to realization that I spend about 70% of my day behind a computer typing – and that’s on and off the clock. How much time do you spend on the computer daily? Weekly? And, yes, social media counts too.
According to repetitive strain injury statistics, women are twice as likely to develop Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (than men), and [women] experience nearly 2/3’s of all work-related Repetitive Strain Injuries. Yikes.
Fortunately, there are pre-typing exercises you can do to help prevent musculoskeletal disorders and their sneaky progression. Disclaimer: you might feel silly doing these (especially if it’s during working hours), but trust me—they help! Follow these three phases for a complete hand-wrist workout:
First phase (Stretch): I’ll call this one the “Prayer Pose” or “Namaste” – holding the power to prevent carpal tunnel, meanwhile providing a great stretch.
Start with your hands in prayer form (elbows straight out) with your fingertips just below your chin. While holding your prayer pose, slowly bring your hands down to your navel and hold for 15 seconds. You should feel a nice, pulling stretch in the wrist area. Feels good right?
Now, take this stretch a step further: press your fingertips together (there shouldn’t be any space in between your fingers) and slowly lift your palms outward. Ahhhhh.
Second phase (Metacarpal Aerobics): I’ll call this one the “Jane Fonda” because not only will it kick-start your blood circulation, but will also prevent finger stiffness caused from excessive typing without a proper warm-up.
Put your right hand out like you’re giving someone a high-five. Bring your right thumb to your palm and press gently, holding for about 1-2 seconds (you can use your other hand to assist with pressing if you’d like). Continue with the index finger – bend it downward and gently press against the palm, keeping all other fingers straight as you do this. Continue with each finger—one by one. Repeat 3 times on each hand.
Third Phase (Strength Training): I’ll call this one “The Hulk.” Get ready to unleash any fury you might have.
Take a sheet of paper and crumble it with one hand. After you make a paper ball, squeeze for 10-15 seconds before you release. Then, continue with opposite hand.
Optional: You can end with the “Prayer Pose” before you start your typing session.
Let me know how this handy workout worked for you. Share your experience and leave your comment below.
Repetitive strain injury statistics (no date) Available at: http://www.rsi-therapy.com/statistics.htm (Accessed: 22 November 2015).