Carpal tunnel syndrome is widespread in today’s modern age and is caused by pressure on the median nerve in the wrist. The excellent news about carpal tunnel syndrome is that it is preventable. If you’re starting to experience tingling or numbness in your fingers, there are simple ways to reverse these symptoms. For those wondering how to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome, keep reading. We’ll go over tips for carpal tunnel prevention at work.
Tips to Prevent Carpal Tunnel Syndrome at Work
Here are some ways to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome at work.
- Take breaks
One good solution for the curious about how to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome is to take regular breaks, especially if you use the computer all day. A few five-minute breaks to stretch, move around, and get hydrated will support your overall productivity and help keep your wrists healthy. We’ll go over some stretches to do in another section.
- Use less force
You may use more force than you realize when performing daily tasks like typing. A study examining different wrist postures during typing found that pressure increased when subjects moved from clicking a mouse to typing. This pressure can aggravate carpal tunnel syndrome. One solution, besides ergonomics, is to try and consciously use less force when typing and doing daily activities. We may be habitually used to doing something a certain way and be unaware of the excessive force being used.
- Do more stretching
How to prevent carpal tunnel? Take a couple of minutes to stretch your wrists, hands, arms, and shoulders during your breaks or a specific stretch break. Doing this several times a day will help you to protect your wrists. As with any stretching, go slowly and stop before discomfort becomes pain. Feel confident in doing more of a stretch if it feels good and less if it doesn’t.
- Roll your shoulders backward and forwards. Roll one shoulder forward or back at a time.
- Stand by a wall or an outward-facing corner. Bend your arm like you’re flexing a muscle and place your hand and forearm on the wall or corner. Push your arm against the wall and take a small step forward with the same side’s leg as the arm you’re stretching. Bend your knee, and you should feel a stretch across your chest and the front of your shoulder. Repeat on the other side.
- Hold your arms slightly in front of your body and shake your hands. Imagine you’re shaking water off of your fingertips. Do this for a full minute or two. This is especially helpful if you’re waking up with pain or numbness.
- Make fists and then slowly slide your fingers open into the stop sign position, with the fingers together and extended straight. Repeat 5-10 times.
- Do the stop sign stretch above, except spread your fingers wide, stretching your whole hand. Repeat 5-10 times.
- Turn your hands face up and lay them comfortably on your lap or your desk. Gently tap each finger against your thumb, repeat 5-10 times on both hands, or do each side simultaneously.
- Keep your wrists neutral
If you’re wondering how to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome at work, try to keep your wrists in a straight or neutral line. Avoid bending the wrists up or down for long periods, such as when typing. This will prevent compression of the carpal tunnel, where the median nerve travels through the wrist
- Practice good posture
Even though your pain is in your wrists, the cause, or part of the cause, could be from tension further up in your body. Pressure on your wrists is exasperated by rolling your shoulders forward. We roll our shoulders forward to move our hands forward because our pectoral (chest) muscles may be tight. Keep your shoulders over your hips and shoulder blades on your back. Sit squarely on your sitz (bottom) bones, and pull your lower belly in gently with an exhale, supporting your lower back. From this place of support, gently lift your chest, and feel your shoulders roll onto the back.
- Keep your wrists warm
This might sound a little silly, but keeping your hands and wrists warm is an effective form of carpal tunnel prevention. Cold muscles lead to injury, as every athlete knows. If it’s cold in your office (many workplaces have very cool AC), it might benefit you to start wearing fingerless gloves. Fingerless gloves keep the joints in your hands and wrists nice and warm while working. Consider a small heater during the cold months if your workplace allows for individual climate control.
- Ask for help
Asking your supervisor at work for help may be a sound strategy. With their ok, you could change your workstation or take stretching breaks. They may even be able to purchase ergonomic accessories like chairs, desks, or supports. Ergonomics is the study of people at work and has become a catchall phrase to describe the practice of healthy posture and movements. Consider your situation. Would a standing desk be helpful? Do you need your monitor height raised or lowered? How about your office chair? Does it correctly support you? What about your keyboard? Do some research and determine what you need to support your wrist health.
- Find professional help
Occupational therapists are similar to physical therapists, except they specifically focus on helping you to perform daily tasks, including work-related activities. If you’re doing stretches on your own, asked for help at work, tried ergonomics, etc., and still have issues with your wrists, then seeking professional help is a good idea. (It’s a good idea at any stage in this process, but it becomes necessary if self-treatment isn’t helping enough.) An occupational therapist can show you more stretches and exercises to do to help strengthen your wrists. They can also help you find safer ways to perform your work activities.
Prevent Carpal Tunnel Syndrome in the Workplace with BioFunctional Health Solutions
We’re experts at helping organizations like yours prevent and resolve carpal tunnel syndrome in their workforce. We use ergonomics and evidence-based soft tissue manipulation called Functionally Optimized Massage to safely and quickly resolve discomfort and pain. Find your solution with us today!