I’d like to step away from character selection today and get back to the subject of our aching, whining, Wrists-That-Shall-Not-Be-Ignored. For those of us who suffer repetitive motion injury, here are a few tips that may make life more keyboard-friendly:
- You can help prevent injury by making sure that your setup and equipment are appropriate for your height. If you work outside of your home, ask your employer to allow an ergonomic evaluation of your work station. Then apply the same measurements to your home writing station. (Just as chocolate is a major food group and … trust me on this … won’t add a ounce to your weight, this particular tip doesn’t apply when you’re slouching at your neighborhood coffee shop with a laptop on your knees and a double frappachino thingy-whacky in your hand.)
- Take frequent breaks. (Breaks! Oooo — I LIKE breaks.)
- Consciously remember to relax your grip when you’re using your mouse. (Yeah … Hey! Try not to choke that poor little mouse to death.)
- Exercise (my least favorite word) your wrists frequently throughout the day. First, bend and flex your wrists. Then make a fist, and then stretch out your fingers. If you already have carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), consult your doctor to make certain that these or other exercises are appropriate for you. (Allow me to recommend my favorite reward after any exercise: Chocolate!!!)
- Keep your hands and wrists warm. Cold muscles are more prone to injury. (I’m sorry about this for you folks in the frozen tundra, or any place north of the equator, for that matter.)
If you are one of nearly eight million Americans who have CTS, you’re at least not alone. Get treated if you think you may have repetitive injury. If left alone, those with CTS can develop a loss of feeling in some fingers and permanent weakness of the thumb. Unlike my hips, your thumb muscles can actually waste away over time.
Be safe out there, my fellow writers. Take care of your hands and wrists. Remember — you’ll need them for signing all those autographs in your books!