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Type Right - Prevent RSI and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome By Typing Right

Week Two of the Prevent RSI Program

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Updated December 31, 2008

Don't Contort Your Wrists

Don't Contort Your Wrists

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This is week two of the RSI Program. Give the skill outlined below a try for one week. Consider it a one-week experiment. Commit to following these simple steps every day of the week.

Introduction

What You’ll Do: There are some typing habits that increase your chances of developing repetitive stress injury (RSI) and/or carpal tunnel syndrome. This week, we’ll point out some of the bad habits you may have, so that you can work on making changes in how you type. This can reduce the day-to-day strain on your hands and wrists.

How It Works: Paying attention to proper positioning of your hands and avoiding certain types of keystrokes can prevent potential damage to your hands and wrists. Learning to type properly may mean unlearning some typing habits. You’ll need about a week of concentration to fully adopt your new typing methods.

Get Motivated: Changing how you type is a simple way to reduce the strain of working at the computer on your body. Just making a few tweaks and adjustments could be the difference between healthy hands and painful ones. Let’s get started.

The Steps

  1. Don’t Contort: There are certain combinations of keystrokes that contort your hands and wrists. For example, try pressing “control-Y” with your left hand only. Anytime you need to do a key combination that involves holding down one key and pressing another, use both hands. This will seem strange at first, but will keep you from being twisted into strange positions. This applies to using the “shift” key too.
  2. Keep Wrists Neutral: When typing, your wrists should not be bent outward toward your pinky nor inward toward your thumb. Keep your wrists straight.
  3. Don’t Rest Your Wrists: When typing, your hands should float above the keyboard, allowing your fingers to find the right keys by moving your whole arm. If your wrists rest in one place, you have to contort your hands to strike all the keys. You can rest your wrists when pausing – try turning your hands over (knuckles down) when taking a break.
Commitment: I will practice three typing rules for better hand and wrist health this week: 1) don’t contort, 2) keep wrists neutral and 3) don’t rest your wrists.

Tips

  • Wrist rests can be confusing, because you really should not rest your wrists while you type. Think of them as a reminder not to rest your hands on the edge of a desk or table, but keep your wrists floating in the air when you type.
  • Pay attention to any contortions that you do to reach keys and make key combinations; you may be making some very difficult stretches. Use both hands to make those key combinations.
  • Don’t forget to keep up with the stretches at least three times each day.
  • Turning your hands (knuckles on the table) over when pausing at the keyboard is a great way to give your wrists a break from being in the same position all day long. Get in the habit of turning your wrists over when thinking of the next sentence to write, talking on the phone or reading things on the computer.

More

Take your typing perfection to the next level by altering your workspace. Your keyboard should be below your elbows. Your monitor should be at eye level. Your back should be supported. Your feet should be squarely on the floor (don’t sit with crossed legs for any length of time). Your screen should be at arm’s length away from you. Assess your workstation, and make all the changes you can.

Here is the whole program. Give each one a solid one-week try, and then come back and do the next one. If you want a reminder, sign up for the Prevent RSI E-Course. It is free, and you’ll get short e-mail reminders each day to help keep you on track.

The Prevent RSI Program

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