These days, millions of people all over the world spend their days in front of computer keyboards. The computer workstation has become an integral element in the everyday lives of an incalculable employee population worldwide. Unfortunately, research would also suggest that the vast majority of office and home workers alike are not sufficiently safeguarding their health and wellbeing.
Difficult to believe as it may be, typing has the potential to be hazardous to health. Typing for long periods without taking into account ergonomics can bring on a variety of respective strain conditions. Worse still, it can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome – a condition that is not only extremely painful, but can also be difficult to treat.
On the plus side, it isn’t actually using a keyboard and mouse that poses a problem. Instead, it’s the position in which people tend to use them that can prove problematic. If you experience pain and discomfort in the hands and wrists while typing, the problem is most likely the result of poor positioning.
So with this in mind, what follows is a brief overview of just a few simple yet effective tips for preventing typing pain and the onset of conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome:
- Sit up straight. First and foremost, correcting your overall posture could make the biggest difference of all. The reason being that if the rest of your body isn’t in the ideal position, it’s impossible to type with your hands and wrists in healthy positions. Your feet should be positioned firmly on the ground, with your back against a chair that provides adequate support for your lower back. Specially designed ergonomic chairs come highly recommended.
- Position your keyboard. Likewise, the position of the keyboard itself will determine if and to what extent it is possible to type in a healthy position. As a general rule of thumb, your keyboard should be positioned between one and two inches above your legs, one of very slight incline sloping away from your body. The center of the keyboard should align as closely as possible with the center of your body. If necessary, consider investing in a quality keyboard trade to achieve the ideal position.
- Keep your wrists flat and straight. You should be looking to create a straight line that runs all the way from your elbow through your wrist and right to the ends of your fingers. It should never be necessary to bend your wrists upwards or downwards when typing. If there is any noticeable bend in your wrist or your fingers when sitting in a typing position, this confirms that adjustments need to be made.
- Float your hands over the keyboard. The ideal typing position involves allowing your hands to float over the keyboard with your fingers curved inwards very loosely. One of the biggest mistakes many typists make is to rest their wrists directly on the keyboard or the keyboard rest. Doing so can put a dangerous amount of pressure on the carpal tunnel area and increase the likelihood of repetitive strain conditions.
- Avoid stretching to reach keys. If you need to reach an area of the keyboard that would otherwise require stretching of the fingers or wrists, get into the habit of moving your entire arm instead. The reason being that when you stretch your fingers or wrists to reach keys, you strain a number of tendons and muscles in doing so. In addition, be sure to use two hands for two-key combinations, rather than stretching one hand excessively over the keyboard.
- Use a gentle typing action. Many typists get into the habit of pounding their keyboards unnecessarily hard at an early stage. The problem being that the more aggressively you type, the greater the level of strain you put on your joints, muscles and tendons. With the technology that’s on the market today, there really is no need to type with anything other than a gentle action.
- Buy a better keyboard. Last but not least, if you find it difficult to achieve a comfortable typing position with your current keyboard, it may be time to upgrade. Invest in a high-quality ergonomic keyboard from a leading manufacturer and you may find typing in general a more pleasant experience.
The above examples represent the kinds of small changes that can add up to a big difference. Nevertheless, if you find yourself repeatedly experiencing pain and discomfort while typing, it’s important to arrange an examination and consultation with a professional. The earlier repetitive strain conditions are detected, the quicker and more effectively they can be treated.