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It can be challenging to avoid carpal tunnel syndrome for people who type frequently, or for those who work in jobs that require repetitive motions of the fingers, hands and wrists. Some people may be less able to avoid it because certain conditions like thyroid disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and diabetes make the condition more likely. Still, all efforts should concentrate on prevention, as repetitive motion injuries can seriously impact your ability to do your job. Make sure that you put as little stress on your wrists as possible, angle your body and hands correctly, practice some basic wrist exercises, and regularly take breaks.
The first step to avoid carpal tunnel syndrome is making certain that your working environment will put the least strain on your wrists. Your body position and the position of your keyboard are important. When you place your hands on the keyboard, your lower arms, wrists, and hands should extend out at a 90° angle from the upper arms. If you hands are lower or higher when you type, you'll be more likely to develop carpal tunnel problems.
The body should be in a straight but relaxed position, and your knees should also bend at a comfortable 90° angle with the feet on the floor. If your chair is not adjustable, consider a footrest if your feet do not touch the floor. Work that you must type should be easy to read, and you should not have to hunch over in order to type. A stand where you can rest papers you must copy can be helpful.
Many typists fall victim to carpal tunnel syndrome because their wrists rest below the keyboard, and they must angle their hands upward in order to type correctly. A wrist rest below the hands can keep the hands more appropriately positioned for typing. Further, typists who are working on keys with a high resistance may injure their wrists because they strike the keys too hard. Adjusting the keyboard tension makes it easier to type without pushing with as much force.
Even with good body positioning, some people still find themselves typing at awkward angles. This may simply be bad habit, and may make it harder to avoid carpal tunnel syndrome. A good correction to poor hand position are wrist braces or gloves that restrict up and down and side to side movement of the wrists. They allow your fingers to do the work while the wrists remain stable.
Typists can also perform wrist exercises, essentially warming up the wrists before beginning work. There are many exercise suggestions available, but the simplest of these is merely shaking the hands out, or making a fist for five seconds with each hand. The goal is to find exercises that will be easy to do and will take a short amount of time.
One essential that is often overlooked by typists is the benefit of taking breaks. It’s best when these breaks rest both the wrists and the eyes, so walking away from the keyboard for a few moments is a good idea. Ideally, a break and a stretch should be taken at least once an hour. Wrist warm up exercises should be repeated prior to beginning to type again. It can be a good idea to incorporate a few stretches of the body as well, as long periods of sitting can be detrimental to the whole body.
Many companies and individuals know the cost of losing good typists to carpal tunnel syndrome and encourage frequent breaks and even company-wide exercises once an hour to keep their workers healthy. If your company offers no such policy, ask for these breaks anyway, since most employers do not want to pay your disability if you develop carpal tunnel syndrome. People who are self-employed or students should make sure they take hourly breaks. Try setting a timer if your work distracts you easily and you lose track of time.