Many of those who spend most of their days in front of a computer often experience hand and wrist pain due to repetitive hand and wrist movements from typing and using the mouse. Those whose jobs include using computers such as secretaries, assistants, writers, transcribers, and encoders are ones that are affected the most.
While some offices carry out proper ergonomic designs, it all still goes down to too much strain on the forearms and the wrists. The case may be worse for those with poor posture while typing. Normally, the hands should be aligned with the forearms when typing so that the wrists are neither flexed nor extended, just straight. What usually happens is that the wrists rest on the table and the hands are angled upwards over the keyboard. When the wrists are positioned in this manner for prolonged periods of time, nerve and musculoskeletal problems occur. Since the wrists rest on a hard surface, the nerves become compressed and trapped. Aside from the muscle strain, this nerve entrapment causes the pain. From repetitive stress injury, it could progress to more serious cases such as carpal tunnel syndrome.
One of the ways to relieve pain and prevent further damage is through proper exercise. Doctors recommend strengthening and stretching exercises to help the muscles of the forearm and the hand become stronger. Here are some hand exercises that you can do. Do not continue if you experience pain or if the pain gets worse.
Wrist extension and flexion
Hold the fingers of your right hand together with a firm grip from your left hand. Slowly extend your hand up toward the direction of the right forearm as far as you can. Hold for a few seconds and repeat at least 5 times. Do the same to your left hand. When you are done, repeat the same procedures to both hands but this time, flex your hands downward.
Wrist pronation and supination
Hold out your hands with the palms up. Turn them over so that your palms are now facing down. Bring them back to the starting position and repeat at least 10 times.
Hold a hand exercise ball just big enough for your hand. Try to crush it in your hand using only your grip strength. Repeat at least 10 times. You can also have it ready in your pocket so that you can get your hands busy every now and then.
This exercise combines range-of-motion and strengthening exercises. In a sitting position, hold a dumbbell with your hand and rest your forearm on your knee. Do wrist flexion and extension while holding the dumbbell. This adds more tension to your forearm muscles. Remember to do the exercise slowly to avoid muscle strain and pain.
Aside from exercise, proper ergonomics is very important. Awkward positions when using the computer can affect not just your hands and wrists but also the other parts of your body such as your back, neck and shoulders. Remember also to take a rest now and then especially when your wrists, hands and fingers feel tired and/or painful.