A repetitive stress injury (RSI) is a cumulative trauma disorder that comes from prolonged repetitive movements. It includes conditions such as tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and bursitis. One common cause of RSI is all the typing we do day in and day out. Typing doesn't seem that strenuous, but any movement that you do repeatedly over time can cause injuries to delicate tissues and tendons. In fact, typing injuries are the fasting-growing category of work-related injuries.
If you're experiencing pain associated with typing, seek treatment right away. It is important to address these injuries quickly. If you're not feeling any pain yet, but are concerned about the amount of time you spend typing, you're in a good position to get ahead of the RSI and prevent it. Whether you are currently dealing with an RSI or trying to avoid one, these tips can help.
First, make sure you have good posture. The way you sit has effects on shoulder, arm, and wrist pain, not just back and neck pain. Check out our proper ergonomic posture tips.
Once you know you're sitting (or standing) correctly, make sure that your hands and wrists are in a straight line. Instead of letting your palms sit on a wrist rest, allow them to float above the keys as you type. It's fine to rest every now and then, but floating them means that your back shares in some of the work, so it isn't all concentrated in your wrists. It also helps you more easily reach out-of-the-way keys like CTRL and Backspace. And when typing, use a light touch. No need to pound the keys. You'll find it's easier to type lightly when your hands are floating. Ergonomic keyboards feature soft touch keys and adjustable layouts, so you can better position the keyboard while typing.
You might also consider a keyboard with a DVORAK layout instead of the standard QWERTY. Believe it or not, the QWERTY layout was purposely designed for inefficiency; in the early days of the typewriter, the most commonly-used letters were placed on the home row for typing ease, but the keys were frequently jammed from hitting so many popular letters so close together. Thus was born the QWERTY layout, designed to slow typists down and avoid key jamming by spreading the most commonly-used letters across the keyboard. Of course, that layout means excess reaching and straining, which contributes to RSI. The DVORAK layout is like the metric system of keyboards -- it makes a lot of sense and makes our lives easier, but many resist. You might love it, though! You never know until you try.
Visit TheHumanSolution.com for more info on ergonomic tools to ease your pain.