Perhaps you’ve been super productive today. You’ve pumped out a bunch of reports, answered emails, and checked off multiple to-dos. Yet, after a long day of stellar productivity, your wrists ache. And lately, you’ve begun to notice tingling and numbness in your thumb and first three fingers. So, what’s going on?
These are tell-tale signs of carpal tunnel syndrome. And if you’re not careful, these symptoms may get worse, interfering with your work productivity and even your daily life.
But don’t worry. We’re going to get to the bottom of how you can prevent carpal tunnel syndrome, as well as help you understand what exactly is going on beneath the surface. Let’s take a look.
What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Carpal tunnel syndrome happens when the median nerve, which runs through the carpal tunnel (an opening at the base of the hand), becomes compressed.
This can happen due to repetitive motions, such as typing, causing ligaments or tendons that run through the wrist to become irritated and inflamed. These structures may narrow the carpal tunnel space, leaving little room for the median nerve.
The result? You end up with tingling and numbness in your hands and fingers. You may also experience weakness in these areas, such as poor hand grip.
Preventing Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Luckily, there are various ways you can prevent this condition from worsening and from happening in the first place, even if you’re working at a computer and keyboard all day long.
Here are our best tips and tricks to combat wrist and hand pain and continue being your productive and high-driven self.
#1. Decrease Your Force
While you might not necessarily be gripping anything when typing away, you might be pounding the keyboard with excessive force (we all tend to do this from time to time). This over-the-top force can irritate the tendons and ligaments that run through your wrist, resulting in carpal tunnel syndrome.
The fix? Use a light touch! There’s no need to pound the keyboard. Simply, soften your typing and you may very well alleviate the pain.
#2. Take Frequent Breaks
If you’re sitting at a desk the majority of your day, breaks should be at the forefront of your mind. Sitting is very hard on the body, yet stretching and moving every hour or so can combat any aches or pains from developing.
If possible, you can even allocate these break times to tasks that don’t require repetitive motions, such as typing. Maybe lay off the keyboard and read that document you’ve been tasked with.
Additionally, if you ever begin to notice any aches or soreness in your wrists, take a break. Rest your hands and wrists for a bit or even stretch it out (more on this in our next tip!).
#3. Stretch It Out!
When it comes to preventing carpal tunnel syndrome, you want to prevent irritation and inflammation of the structures that run through the carpal tunnel of the wrist. This may mean stretching out the muscles and tendons periodically throughout your day to alleviate any tension or tightness that may have developed.
- Put your hands in front of you and shake your hands, as if you were trying to dry water off of them. Do this for 30 seconds to one minute.
- Then, take one arm and extend it straight in front of you.
- Grab your hand and pull it back with your palm facing away from you.
- Hold here for 20-30 seconds, then do the opposite side.
- Then, take your arm and extend it straight out again.
- This time grab your hand and pull it back with your palm facing toward you.
- Again, hold for 20-30 seconds, before repeating on the opposite side.
#4. Check Your Wrist Position
Ideally, when sitting at a keyboard, your wrists should rest in a neutral position, with no bend. This means your forearms should be straight from your elbows to your fingers. Sometimes, wrist rest can help in this regard. You’ll also want to ensure your desk and chair armrests are positioned properly.
#5. Maintain a Good Posture
While you might not think your posture matters here since it’s your wrists that are the problem, it does! Everything in the body is connected. Poor posture, such as hunching forward and rounding the back, may result in poor wrist position or strain on the forearms, wrists, and hands.
Ensure you’re sitting up properly with your shoulders back.
TIP: A proper ergonomically-designed office chair can help you maintain proper posture and avoid aches and pains that come with sitting at a desk all day.
#6. Stay Warm!
Cool temperatures can increase stiffness and pains in our joints and soft tissues. Moving can help your body stay warm to an extent. However, if you find you’re cold sitting at your desk and you have little control of the temperature, it may be worthwhile to invest in gloves or even use a heat pack during breaks.
Heat can ease muscular tension, allowing the area to relax and thwart aggravation.
Prevention is Always Best
Waiting until you’re in pain to do something about it is not preferable (no one wants to be in pain!). Instead, ensure you take actions beforehand.
Set up your office and workstation so that you are comfortable and can maintain a proper posture with ease. Take frequent breaks to allow your body to rest or stretch from the repetitive typing and from sitting.
And if pain does arise, ensure you take steps toward reducing and relieving it as opposed to irritating the area further. Carpal tunnel syndrome can be a hard condition to shake. In fact, improper care and inadequate treatment may lead to a persistent and chronic problem. In severe cases, surgery may even be required to relieve the compression on the median nerve.
Take care of your body and it will take care of you!