tuesday tip: wrist care

I don’t know what it is about August. Each summer, photos of wrist braces pop up in my social media feeds. While most of us can state ways to prevent a repetitive stress injury, it’s often a case of do as I say, not as I do. Case in point? After a marathon landscaping session on Sunday and trying to finish the project on Monday before storms come through later this week, my hands and wrists are sore from doing things they don’t often do.

Today’s post is a courtesy reminder for all of us! It includes a few tips I generally use to keep my wrists working well no matter the season or deadline.

I first became vocal of the need for ergonomics and adjusting tools in high school. I was a serious student and fledgling bassoon player; I’m petite and reaching all of the keys of the Heckel system was often, well, a stretch. When I was in high school most of my school work was handwritten, and I sometimes found it difficult to balance the needs of writing my lessons, practicing, and keeping my wrists pain-free.

In college when faced by a different set of keys and long hours in computer labs, I furthered my search for the right tool for the right person, even if it wasn’t the most popular. I use many keyboard shortcuts along with a different order of the keys, known as the dvorak keymap.

tips I use to care for my wrists

The following should not be construed as medical advice. If you believe you are experiencing a repetitive stress injury, first and foremost see a doctor as soon as possible for evaluation and a treatment plan! These are an overview of several things I do, most of the time. I’ve been known to sit for a marathon knitting session when pressed by deadline or spend hours at the keyboard coding for a client. These reminders are useful for me as well!

one: rest

I’m an advocate for rest. I know when facing deadline and feeling the beginning signs of injury it’s tempting to just push through and deal with the consequences later. Take time to stop and evaluate what’s not right. I find if I pause and take breaks now often I can push through, perhaps with modifications, and then fully and completely rest later.

Of the body parts prone to injury, I find resting my wrists is one of the most difficult things to do. I’m almost always doing something with my hands!

How do I rest my wrists? I read. And not from my tablet either. Maybe I’ll pull out a favourite title to reread or I’ll get sucked into something new. It’s not easy as I often knit and read, but with a book in my hands I can carry on more easily.

two: review

The moment I begin to feel twinges of pain I stop and review my workspaces. Am I sitting properly when at my desk or in a comfy chair? Is my keyboard at the right height, angle, and distance? I have a very old edition of this keyboard and love it. I don’t often use it anymore, but when wrist pain strikes I make it work with my current computer system!

Do I have adequate light to keep from contorting to see my stitches? Is there ample room for me to sit with a cat? (I’m realistic. The cats are part of every every project.)

In addition to the technology workstation, I make sure to review lumbar and foot support where I like to curl up and knit or crochet. When I’m sitting my feet don’t often touch the floor and that added stress trickles throughout my body. It’s rare to find me without some sort of foot stool, even if improvised.

Sometimes fixing things is merely a matter of cleaning my desk! Kittens like to rearrange my monitors, small changes can often make a big difference.

three: variety

While I like to batch similar projects, I also like to work on different types of tasks in different locations throughout the day. No, not all at once, I’m not a fan of multi-tasking. I try to alternate between desk work and other work so I’m not sitting for too long at any one stretch. To help me out with this, I have a watch that buzzes and reminds me to move. This helps not just my general health, but definitely gets me up and away from the repetitive motions I’m likely making.

four: strength and stretching

Both elastic bands and a flexbar are part of my exercise routine. Somewhere I have a stress ball, that works quite well for finger strength. I also make sure to stretch my muscles often.

Please talk to your doctor or physical therapist before beginning use of these products and make sure you know how to use them properly. I make a schedule for exercises, and do my best to stick to doing them regularly.

remember:

“Moderation in all things” ― Aristotle
Too much work as well as too much rest, review, randomness, and strength training will not help you heal. I try to make sure that the schedule is open to flexibility. Maybe I can’t knit but i could lay down washes of watercolour. I may have to postpone finishing some code, but a printout of screenshots make a nice companion to a cup of coffee and allow me to scrutinize them in ways I might not otherwise.

I hope you find my tips helpful. I’m not the only one to write on this topic:

knitting at the keyboard

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