Repetitive Motion Injuries are more common than most people realize. Just as the term implies, these are injuries caused by motions we do over and over again. When you really think about it, there are many things that each of us does day in and day out that are considered repetitive motion. These are simple actions that normally we do without much thought.
Typing: your wrists are in the same position sometime for extended periods of time while you type documents, e-mails and even scroll the web.
Writing: If like many you normally work on a computer and decided you need a break; writing seems like the next best thing! Do it often enough and you will find the same stressors rear their ugly head!
Crocheting: Crocheting with your dominant hand produces the same motion over and over again sometimes for hours on end. Think of those people that produce garments and afghans seemingly at breakneck speed. With your non-dominant hand, you are holding the yarn and keeping the tension in line, causing just as much injury to the non-dominant hand.
Knitting: Knitting is somewhat different from crocheting in that you use two hands plus hold the tension steady with your non-dominant hand while knitting row after row.
Needle Work: Embroidery, needlepoint, hand-quilting, hand-sewing are all methods people use to produce decorative objects, quilts, chair coverings, wall hangings, etc. Each requires a repeated motion while holding a needle.
Farming/Gardening: Digging holes, one after another, raking, hoeing, etc. are all repetitive motion actions that if you garden regularly you are familiar with on an intimate level.
Now I am sure you are thinking, “but I love doing all those things!” So, what is a person to do when the things that you love doing can cause physical discomfort, injury, and even a need for surgical correction? The answer truly lies in the word moderation. Moderation is the key to maintaining wrist health and comfort.
During the Coronavirus Pandemic with all those working at home in less than ideal physical situations, typing on your laptop at the coffee table in front of the TV or working at the kitchen table, feeling like you need to do more because of the situation at hand, we see more and more repetitive motion injuries.
The best thing you can do for yourself is practice moderation. Do not sit for hours on end typing mindlessly just to complete document after document or clicking through web site after web site. Do not garden for hours on end or knit or crochet or write in a notebook. Here are some suggestions to help you combat repetitive motion injury in any setting, work, or home because one day we will all get through this Coronavirus Pandemic and make it back to work!
- Incorporate breaks into your activities weather work or play, meaning your crochet or knitting schedule, gardening, etc. Remember to take breaks. Consider perhaps the 20/40 rule. What is the 20/40 rule? Well this is 40 minutes of work, knitting, crocheting, or gardening, etc., followed by 20 minutes of some other action.
- Exercise during your break, get up, step away from the keyboard, stretch, take a walk, grab a snack or a drink, if you are at work, maybe talk on the phone while stretching your fingers, your forearms and yes, your wrists. Simply flexing your hands and fingers will help relieve built up tension.
- Find other options. Dictation software is helpful when it comes to injuries like carpal tunnel gained from the repetitive motion of typing for hours on end. This software has improved greatly over the years. Try it out on your smart phone! Don’t type messages anymore! Save your thumbs and dictate those messages. Why you can even dictate e-mails!
- If crafting is your game, sewing by hand, embroidery, needlepoint, or some other form of needlework, take a break! We all get caught up in finishing the project. Instead, learn to enjoy the process. Practice the same 20/40 rules for these items as well.
- Change your space. When working from home this is a little easier to accomplish. Stand for a while as you type. This changes the way your wrists hit the keyboard. Place a rolled towel in front of the keyboard to support your wrists or purchase a support at your local office supply store. Sit at a different table. The height of the table coupled with the height of the chair all make a difference.
Again, maintaining general health and wrist health is now more important than ever. As we work from home, do school from home and take up crafts that produce a whole other host of injuries it is more important than ever to practice moderation, take breaks, stretch, exercise your hands, wrists and forearms daily. Try these as they are all designed to build strength and prevent you living with unnecessary pain.