Prevent Typing Injuries
Typing can cause a repetitive strain injury (RSI) because of the repetitive movements over the keyboard. These movements can injure tendons, muscles and nerves which can severely limit your ability to use your hands for typing and regular lifestyle activities like driving or playing sports. Typing injuries are serious with some experts citing them as the fastest growing category of work-related injuries.
When the damage is done, it can take months or even years to fix it if the damage can be undone. Pain is often the final sign of the damage and often damage is done before the pain is noticeable. Here are some ways to protect yourself from typing injuries for your health now and in the future.
If you're going to be in front of the computer for long periods of time, it's important to make sure your workstation can comfortably accommodate you for that length of time. Your workstation needs to be set up so your body doesn't tense up to get your work done.
A desk chair with excellent back support is an absolute necessity. You want to be able to rest your spine against the back of the chair and allow your upper body and limbs to relax. Your monitor should be no higher than eye level and your mouse pad should be at the same height as your keyboard.
Sit straight with a 90-degree angle between your upper body and thighs and your legs. Do not tense your shoulders. Keep your hands and wrists in a straight line when viewed from all angles. Do not rest them on anything sharp or restrictive and keep them free to move. Keep them off the work surface. Reduce neck strain by looking straight ahead at the screen. As you read content further down the screen, lower only your eyes as you read down and not your neck.
A high quality chair is essential, but there are other optional pieces of ergonomic equipment that can help prevent typing injuries. An ergonomic mouse, for example, has a trackball on the side that allows you to position the curser without moving the entire mouse as you would do with a traditional mouse.
Keyboard and mouse wrist rests help correctly position the hands and wrists for typing. They're can be made from small beads or gel. Gel ones will conform to the shape of your wrists over time. Keyboard and mouse wrist rests will need to be replaced every year.
Wrist splints or gloves are form fitting with plastic or wood splints that keep the wrists straight. They can be reversible on either hand and can be worn while typing or during other activities. A laptop stand can raise the monitor to an easier to read height while angling the keyboard for more ergonomic typing. Voice dictation software, although expensive, can relieve your wrists if you need to create a lot of copy. A headset and quiet work area are crucial. You will need to dictate all punctuation and program the software to accept company names and symbols.
You should take a break from typing every hour for at least ten minutes. Stretch your arms overhead, go for a walk, get a coffee or a cup of water, or make some phone calls.