Have you noticed how often we use our hands every day?
Think about it and you’ll realize that our hands are active every time we do house chores, carry items, and take care of kids or pets. In addition, our hands are also busy when we’re eating, drinking, playing games, using phones and tablets, and even while driving cars and motorbikes.
But for you as a professional writer, it doesn’t stop there.
Because you write for a living, your hands are also key business tools, since you use them to write longhand, type on the computer, and hold the mouse while writing for hours on a daily basis.
However, if care is not taken, doing all these day in and day out can lead to varying degrees of pain and discomfort, not only in your hands and wrists but also in other parts of your body. Added to that, it can also increase your risk of developing a condition known as repetitive strain injury (RSI).
RSI is the gradual damage to muscles, tendons, and nerves as a result of repetitive motions like typing, using a computer mouse, working on an assembly line, and other similar activities. Symptoms of RSI include pain, tenderness, swelling, stiffness, tingling, and numbness, and they can affect not just your hands and arms but also other parts of your body.
You can reduce the risk of developing all these and achieve your goals as a professional writer when you take care of your hands and keep them in optimal condition.
Ready to learn how?
Then keep reading to uncover five effective ways to take good care of your hands as a professional writer, increasing your productivity at the same time.
Remain Conscious of Your Posture While Typing
Do you know that poor posture adds unnecessary stress and strain to your body?
It can damage joints, muscles, and ligaments; wear down bones; cause poor circulation; and lead to misalignment of your spine and knees, and it can also cause a variety of musculoskeletal dysfunctions that can affect various body systems.
Ouch! Nobody wants that, and that goes double for professional writers.
So, whether you’re typing on your seat or on your feet, having the right posture can help you take good care of your hands and wrists, other parts of your body, and your overall health.
Here are some tips you can use to maintain proper posture while typing:
- Always sit up straight and rest your back against the chair for support.
- Rest your feet flat on the floor or on a footrest so your legs form a 90-degree angle at your knees.
- Place your monitor with the top at eye level or slightly below it so you can look straight ahead without leaning forward.
- Keep your wrists straight and your elbows at an open angle to relax your forearms and shoulders.
- Avoid resting your wrists on the desk or keyboard while typing because it puts pressure on your tendons and can disturb blood circulation.
- When using a laptop, use a stand to raise your laptop so you can look straight ahead without straining your neck.
- Make use of an external keyboard and mouse with your laptop so you can keep your arms and wrists in a more comfortable and neutral position without any strain.
In short, take another look at your writing space or the position in which you normally type and write, and make necessary adjustments so you can maintain the correct posture and take good care of your hands.
Start Using a Split Keyboard
Guess what? The traditional computer keyboard design forces our hands and wrists to stay in an unnatural position while typing. This not only puts a lot of pressure and strain on your hands and wrists when you type, but it also increases your risk of developing symptoms of RSI.
Hence, the split keyboard was designed as a solution to this problem.
Also called an ergonomic keyboard, it’s divided in the middle to make it possible for you to keep your hands and wrists in a natural and more comfortable position while you type.
According to this study, the idea of a split keyboard first came up in the 1920s when it was pointed out that arm strain in the typist could be reduced by splitting the keyboard into two halves and inclining them laterally.
By the early 1990s, split keyboards started showing up on the market, but evidence of a benefit only emerged later. By 2006, the split keyboard was the top-selling keyboard in the United States retail market. Today, there are different types and brands of split keyboards available.
Start using a split keyboard so you can take good care of your hands and avoid all sorts of discomfort and pain that can arise as a result of using a traditional keyboard.
Take Frequent Breaks To Rest Your Hands
Typing on a computer is a repetitive action. When you do it continuously, it can have a negative effect on your fingers, hands, elbows, wrists, neck, and back.
Moreover, typing can keep you chained in one position for hours, which is bad for your health and well-being because it promotes a sedentary lifestyle that can lead to various health complications. Therefore, take frequent breaks while typing to move around more and allow your hands to rest.
Now, let’s look at some methods you can use to take frequent breaks to rest your hands.
Use the Pomodoro Technique
The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method that encourages you to work for 25 minutes at a time, followed by a five-minute break. After you’ve completed four separate 25-minute sessions, you then take a longer break of 15 to 20 minutes.
A microbreak is a short, voluntary break that lasts from 30 seconds to two minutes and can be taken as often as every 10 minutes. The whole essence of a microbreak is to help break up your routine so you can avoid carrying out repetitive motions continuously or remaining stuck in one position for a long time.
Consider the 52 and 17 Method
The rule of 52 and 17 was discovered from a study by the Draugiem Group, which showed that the most productive people don’t work for long stretches at a time. Instead, they work for 52 minutes and take breaks of 17 minutes throughout their workday.
To rest your hands during a break, use any of the following tips:
- Place your hands flat on your desk.
- Stretch and exercise your hands and fingers.
- Move around and perform other tasks, like drinking water.
Remember, you can achieve a lot more when you take frequent breaks to avoid overworking your hands while writing.
Switch to an Ergonomic Mouse
Can you believe that using the standard computer mouse on a regular basis can cause strain on your body? It can lead to numbness and tingling in the thumb and index finger in addition to aches, pain, and soreness around your hands and wrists.
That’s why you can also take good care of your hands by using an ergonomic mouse.
Unlike a traditional computer mouse, an ergonomic mouse is designed with your comfort and health in mind. The mouse can be held and used in a way that allows your hands, fingers, wrists, elbows, and arms to be kept in a natural and relaxed position.
This can help you to reduce fatigue; avoid unnecessary aches and pains; prevent long-term damage to muscles and tendons in your hands, arms, and wrists; and also reduce your risk of developing symptoms of RSI.
Here are some of the best ergonomic mouse options that you can find on the market:
- Ergonomic horizontal mouse.
- Ergonomic vertical mouse.
- Trackball mouse.
- Pen mouse.
- Joystick mouse.
Don’t forget to do your research, study each type of ergonomic mouse, and take note of all their pros and cons before choosing the most suitable one for your needs.
Write With Voice-to-Text Software
You can also take good care of your hands when you write with voice-to-text software.
Also called dictation software or speech recognition software, this technology captures every word you speak on your computer or mobile device as written text. This means you can use it to write for as long as you want just by speaking, without any need to type on the computer with your hands.
In addition, writing with voice-to-text software will help you to:
- Write significantly faster than your normal typing speed.
- Boost your writing productivity since you will write more in less time.
- Write while moving around indoors or outdoors instead of being chained to your desk.
Bottom line, choose to write with dictation software on a regular basis so you can give your poor hands a break from the rigors of typing and at the same time increase your writing productivity while taking good care of your hands and overall health.
Pamper Your Hands and Boost Your Productivity
When you write for a living, your hands are important business tools. This also means you can’t afford to take them for granted, with so many side effects of using technology being discovered these days.
Therefore, you should take special care of your hands by maintaining the right posture every time you type on the computer. In addition, start using a split keyboard, take frequent breaks while typing, switch to an ergonomic mouse, and write with voice-to-text software on a regular basis.
Doing all these will not only keep your hands in optimal condition, but it will also boost your writing productivity and help you achieve your goals as a professional writer.