You’re frustrated and pissed that your wrist pain won’t go away.
You’ve tried everything that you can think of but nothing seems to be working.
You started by soaking your wrist in an ice bath. Then you tried immersing it in warm water. Ultimately, you decided to buy over-the-counter medications but even those didn’t work.
While all these remedies provided some initial instant relief, the wrist pain would return within a few days.
If you’ve been down this road, then the most likely cause of your wrist pain is poor ergonomics. Yes, you can try all kinds of treatments, but if you’re constantly straining your wrist at work, the pain will persist. In this article, I’m going to recommend simple changes you can make to ensure that your wrist pain goes away for good.
Place the keyboard and mouse near the edge of your desk
Your keyboard should always be close to the edge of your desk. As the University of York explains, pushing your keyboard forward causes you to stretch too far when typing.
As for the mouse, not only should it be in line with the keyboard, but also in close proximity to it. This is because placing the mouse too far to the side forces you to stretch; hence, inflicting pain on your shoulder and arm.
Buy a suitable keyboard tray
If you don’t have one already, you should consider investing in a keyboard tray. The main benefit of using this tool is that it gives you freedom in terms of how and where you place your keyboard. This helps you to optimize your typing posture.
To be specific, the best position for your keyboard is at a negative angle. This means that the top of your keyboard is bent slightly downward, allowing your wrists to stay in a neutral position as you type.
A keyboard tray also enables you to position the keyboard at the right height, that is, at the same height as your elbows and forearms. Essentially, this means placing the keyboard in such a way that keeps your arms tilt slightly downward, causing your elbows to form an open angle. If the keyboard is too high, you will be forced to reach and strain your shoulders in the process. If it’s too low, you’ll have to bend your wrists, which will cause discomfort over time.
Switch from a regular mouse to a trackball / vertical mouse
When you’re typing, the recommended position for your wrist is the ‘thumbs-up’ position. Unfortunately, you cannot achieve this position using regular flat mouse, which places your hand in a palm down position (pronation).
This is where a vertical mouse comes in. With this kind of mouse, your hand is wrapped around the mouse. It’s like you’re imitating a claw with your hand, allowing the mouse to occupy the void between your fingers and thumb. This study shows how using such a fully vertical mouse helps to reduce forearm pronation. More importantly, using a vertical mouse takes pressure off the underside of your wrist; thus, preventing wrist pain.
Alternatively, you can use a trackball mouse. This is similar to the standard mouse but it works differently. A trackball is fitted with a rotating ball at the top, which you use to navigate and initiate commands. So instead of moving your hand and fingers as you would with a traditional mouse, you only need to move your fingers.
Compared to a regular mouse, a trackball eliminates the strain caused by sliding your mouse around. With this device, your hand remains in one position throughout, which means you’re not straining your wrists or arms.
Rest your wrists when not typing
If you’re working all day, you should take 2 to 5-minute breaks every twenty to forty minutes. According to this study, it’s been proven that taking microbreaks reduces discomfort in your wrist and finger extensors; hence, preventing wrist pain.
During these breaks, ensure that you rest your wrists completely. By completely we mean that you take your hands off the keyboard and mouse. You can walk around or do some of the wrist exercises explained in our next point.
Exercise at your desk
Another way you can keep wrist pain at bay is by performing simple stretch exercises. These exercises help to strengthen your wrists while also keeping your hands and arms flexible.
However, stretches are only recommended for those with slight wrist pain. If you have serious joint damage or inflammation, first talk to your physician. If they give you the green light, only then can you try out these exercises.
Praying position stretch
This exercise is great for increasing your flexibility and improving circulation to your wrists. To perform it:
- Put your palms together (as you would if you were praying)
- Bring your elbows together so that they touch each other. At this point, your hands will be right in front of your face.
- Gently spread your elbows apart as your lower your hands to your waist point. Stop when you lower your hands to the section in front of your belly button.
- Maintain this position for 20 to 30 seconds and then start from scratch
Wrist Extension Stretch
The aim of this exercise is to increase flexibility of your wrist joint; hence, prevent injury.
- Start by extending your right arm ahead; your palm should be facing down
- Bend your fingers and palm at the wrist point
- Hold your fingers using your left hand and pull them back towards your body
- Stay in this position for about 30 seconds, then repeat on the other hand
If you’ve been experiencing persistent wrist pain, there are several adjustments you can make to combat it. For starters, ensure your keyboard and mouse are always close to the edge of your desk. Two, you can invest in a keyboard tray.
Three, consider using a trackball or vertical mouse instead of the standard, flat-shaped mouse. Taking regular breaks and performing stretch exercises can also go a long way to treat wrist pain.