Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Self care reminder.

How many of you work on a computer, drive or write for more than an hour a day? These three activities are the biggest culprits that cause forearm, wrist and hand tightness, pain and discomfort.

You can keep every day tension from turning into a Repetitive Stress Injury by performing any number or combination of these self-care techniques.

*Stretch. Take 30 seconds out of every hour you are working at a computer to do one or two stretches. Rotate through various stretches throughout the day. Hold stretches for 10-30 seconds.

-Stand up and roll/shrug your shoulders in circles both forward and back.
-Bring your hands together (both palms facing and backs of hands facing) to stretch the muscles that flex and extend the wrists.
-Roll your wrists in slow circles.
-Extend elbows and gently pull fingers back and then fold fingers toward palm and pull gently.

*Strengthen. Making sure that your muscle groups are balanced can prevent the pain that results from one group of muscles becoming significantly stronger than it's counterpart, resulting in the counterpart having to work extra hard to "keep up." It also gives the main muscles you use in your work a much deserved rest.

-Wrap a rubber band around your fingers and thumb at the second knuckle. Start with fingertips touching and spread them out so you are stretching the rubber band. Remember to open and close slowly.
-Use a very small hand weight (or water bottle, soup can, etc...) and rest your forearm on your knee or a table. Let your wrist extend from the table unsupported with your palm facing down. Extend your wrist up so that you are lifting the back of your hand up. Always move slowly.

A book I highly recommend is called Save Your Hands! by Lauriann Greene, CEAS & Richard W. Goggins, CPE, LMP. While this book is written with massage therapists in mind, almost all of the stretches, exercises and self-care techniques can be used by anyone who uses their hands for their work.

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