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15 Tips to Prevent Repetitive Strain Injury and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

on November 13, 2007

This post is an entry in the Lists Group Writing Project at Litemind.

Yesterday I wrote about the pain I’ve been feeling in my wrists from too much keyboard and mouse use. The list below is the result of my efforts to research what I should have been doing to prevent this kind of pain.

  1. Your keyboard should be low enough that your elbow isn’t bent more than 90 degrees. Examples of correct and incorrect typing positions.
  2. Make sure your upper arms are positioned close to your body rather than relying on armrests for support.
  3. Keep your wrists straight when typing. Don’t bend them either up or down, or side to side at an angle. An example of correct wrist position.
  4. An ergonomic keyboard, including split and curved designs, may reduce stress on the tendons in your wrists.
  5. Type correctly, using two hands to do combination keystrokes (e.g. Shift+A) rather than contorting your hand.
  6. Try tilting your keyboard down at the top instead of using the keyboard’s feet.
  7. Wrist rests should only be used during pauses, not while typing or mousing. Examples of right and wrong positions when using the mouse.
  8. Avoid gripping the mouse too hard or striking the keys with too much force.
  9. A trackball mouse will require less wrist movement than a standard mouse.
  10. Avoid extending your arm to reach for the mouse.
  11. Keep your hands warm.
  12. Take frequent breaks from typing and mousing and change activities often.
  13. Stretch the muscles of your wrists and forearms frequently. Some exercises to help prevent strain.
  14. Practice good posture. Poor posture puts stress on the nerves of your hands and arms as well as your neck and back.
  15. Don’t use a laptop as your primary computer unless you use an alternate keyboard and mouse.

This is not intended to be medical advice. As with any health concern, please see your doctor.

The tips above were compiled from the following sources:
WebMD
Mayo Clinic
Cornell University Ergonomics Web

Harvard RSI Action
CDC Computer Workstation Ergonomics


33 Responses to “15 Tips to Prevent Repetitive Strain Injury and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome”

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  3. Nice tips. I think one of the hardest things to do is taking breaks. Once I get into a writing zone, it’s hard to recognize when it’s time to take a break. Stretching is another one that’s hard for me to remember to do.

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  5. CSS says:

    Thanks, Sheila. I hope you find the tips useful!

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  7. Someone I know is undergoing surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome in a few weeks. These tips really hit home. However, I mostly use a laptop, which leads to terrible computing posture – any suggestions?

  8. CSS says:

    Neena,

    The design of your laptop will determine how easy this is for you, but I’ve found that the most important thing for me is to not rest my wrists on the edge of the laptop. Compressing the wrists’ nerves is what leads to carpal tunnel, so you want to avoid that at all costs.

    I bought a wrist rest something like this one and it’s at just the right height to support my arms when I’m using my laptop.

    Really though, it might be best to get another keyboard to use with your laptop for long typing sessions. I just find the laptop keyboard to be so cramped; I end up contorting my hands in strange ways to type.

    Hope this helps!

  9. Great tips CSS.

    In this age, many of us are working at the computers/laptops for long hours, and your tips is definitely relevant. I’m going to make sure I apply some of these tips myself :)

  10. CSS says:

    Thanks Lawrence!

    I hope my tips are useful.

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  16. Hi Css,

    Very interesting to read about all those wrong moves we can make whilst having fun on the net. Good luck with the competition. :-)

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    Thanks Monika! Good luck to you too.

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  21. i think most users of computer daily should be weary of rsi so this is def a bookmark

  22. Johnny says:

    Like Sheila’s comment above, taking breaks is the one that’s hard for most people to do consistently. Especially when you’re concentrating on something, you don’t want to lose focus by taking a break. However, if you are already feeling pain like I am, the best way to avoid further damage is to take the breaks. I wrote about some software that could help
    remind you to take breaks http://www.fightrsi.com/2009/03/save-yourself-from-computer-pain-take-a-break/

  23. Samuel says:

    Thanks for nice tips. I’ve been looking for some images that show what the positions of writing should be. Thank you so much. I’ve just discovered MY position is wrong.

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  29. JP says:

    One thing you’ve forgot to mention is to type less. Speech recognition software for example can help in eliminating the need for typing

  30. skythia says:

    Carpal tunnel syndrome is a compression on the the median nerve due to prolong typing, computer gaming and writing. You can check more information on this site and read more articles on our experts advice. http://carpaltunnelhq.com

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