OnSite Plus, corporate wellness – looking after wrists and hands
Working at a keyboard all day can be very bad for you because it is so easy to get so involved in your work that you don’t notice soreness and stiffness until it is too late. One of the best things you can do – and it doesn’t need any equipment or even moving your chair – is to build breaks into your work, so you are not typing or doing other keyboard and mouse tasks for too long a period. This will not only be good for your wrists and hands but will also help tension in your back, head, shoulders and neck.
Step away from the keyboard!
Wherever you work, there has to be somewhere else you can go apart from sitting at your desk. There is no need to break for more than a couple of minutes, but it will make such a difference to how your wrists and hands cope with a busy day that you will soon see it is worthwhile. Just a walk to the end of the room and back would be enough and, if you have enough room, ‘shake out’ your hands and arms as you walk. Watch out for colleagues and hot cups of coffee, but if the coast is clear, it will do a lot of good.
Check your desktop
In a perfect world all places of work would be healthy workplaces, but sometimes you have to help yourself. Always check your monitor it should be at eye level and the keyboard and mouse should be above your elbow although it isn’t always possible, particularly in these hot-desking days. Even so, you must be sure that you don’t put any pressure on the underside of your wrist. This is where all the nerves, tendons and blood vessels run and leaning for hours at a time on this part of your arm will cause all kinds of problems, both long and short term. Find a position that feels comfortable and make sure you have the right supports to hold you in it without muscular effort. If your wrist is tense, you will soon have pain and stiffness. Keep the wrist supple and move from the elbow as much as possible.
Ergonomic isn’t always the answer
Many people advocate ergonomic keyboards, but they don’t suit everyone, so don’t be forced into one if it doesn’t feel right to you. Just find the perfect keyboard and use it always – if necessary, taking it with you if you hot-desk. With wireless keyboards and mice, it is easy to have personalised desk equipment without having to scrabble under the desk to untangle cables all the time. Wireless mice also make it easier to switch hands from time to time. This takes a bit of getting used to, but is a very worthwhile skill to gain because it evens out the stress on your hands and wrists.
Arrange a massage
Hopefully, your company has corporate wellness programmes and are enlightened enough to understand the benefits of a short massage at your desk. There is a huge morale issue as well as health as everyone enjoys some ‘me time’, even if it is just ten minutes or so. Hand and wrist massages are quick and really beneficial but they are also easy to learn and you can massage yourself gently to relieve tension if your wrists get sore and tired despite all your best efforts. If you are lucky enough to be able to have a hand and wrist massage at your desk, you will notice that each arm is given equal attention. Although you might feel that you use one more than the other, they still need to be treated the same.
If you squeeze each wrist gently in a pulsing motion, up your arm from your hand, you will find this is quite relaxing. You don’t need to squeeze hard – in fact, don’t squeeze hard. Just give a slight pressure and as you release you will feel the tension dropping away. You can also help the inner edge of the wrist by pressing gently along the line where the wrist joins the hand. The watchword is gently – your professional masseur will probably feel much more firm, but when you are just giving your wrist and hands some DIY TLC, you must be very much softer in your approach. If you can get hold of some aromatherapy based hand lotion – lavender is good for relaxation, something like grapefruit for a pick-me-up – then the feel good factor will last longer and will waft along with you on your take-a-break walk down the office.
Onsiteplus is a leading service provider in massage to help companies’ corporate health.