I suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome. It’s something that’s been an issue since before I was a writer, but it became worse because of my job.
Every now and then, I get a flare up. It’s excruciating. However, I will say that flare ups have become less and less common as I now know the signs that my wrists need a break.
The pain has shot into my elbows and even into my shoulders at time. It stops me from doing anything around the house, let along write!
But as a writer, minimizing and managing carpal tunnel syndrome is essential. Powering through the pain isn’t something you should be doing. Here are my five top writer tips for managing it.
Take regular breaks from writing
My number one tip is to take breaks from writing. This is essential for every part of your health, but definitely for your wrists.
When I started as a writer, I made so many business mistakes. I would write every single day of the week and barely take a break during my working day. It’s really no surprise that carpal tunnel became such a major problem.
Now I make sure I get away from writing during the day. I step away from the computer for an hour for lunch and take 5-10 minute breaks every hour.
Rather than get a flare up every month, the carpal tunnel syndrome will affect me every three months or so and only for a day. It used to last three or four days. I can even ease off the pain quickly with some anti-inflammatory medicine and a hot water bottle to help reduce the swelling.
In fact, I’m at the point where I can avoid it completely.
Definitely start taking breaks if you don’t already! It will even boost your productivity as a writer.
Don’t forget your wrist exercises
You need to do desk workouts to protect your health as a writer. Wrist workouts should be on the list of exercises. This wasn’t just to improve the strength of your arms but to get the blood flowing better in your wrists.
Circling and stretching the wrists helps to take some of the pressure off them. We just spend far too long with our wrists in one position while typing. And typing on our laps or somewhere not set up to help our posture isn’t doing us any favors either (even though the change of scenery can be nice).
Do the wrist exercises two or three times a day. I like to do them before I start, during lunch, and then at the end of the day. I’ll also have a stress ball, so while I’m thinking I can build the muscles around my wrists and forearms and keep the blood flowing.
Have the right equipment against carpal tunnel syndrome
There is various equipment you can get to help manage your carpal tunnel syndrome as a writer. The first is a split.
The split was something recommended to me when I had a flare up. It certainly works, and I think part of it is because it keeps the heat on the wrist. I find heat is one of the best things when I have a flare up.
But you want to prevent carpal tunnel, right? You want to avoid a flare up happening.
This is when you need to look at the way you’re writing. I have a Microsoft keyboard and mouse that is designed to support the wrists. It took a while to get used to the placement of my hands for typing, but it offers the rest for my wrists to keep my arms in the right place.
I also have a standing desk. This helps my overall health as a writer, but it also helps to support my wrists to avoid carpal tunnel syndrome flare-ups.
Raise your writing rates
This is one of the best ways to improve your carpal tunnel and avoid it occurring. Raising your rates means that you get paid more for the work that you do. You get to spend more time off the computer, so you don’t go through the exact same tasks hour after hour.
You could also look at residual income. This takes time to develop, but it is possible to increase your monthly income and get to the point where you don’t need to write for clients.
Raising my rates was the first thing I did when I realized that I needed time off. I wasn’t worried so much about a day off here and there, because I knew the raise in rates would pay for it.
Move out of daily writing
Something you might want to consider doing is no longer writing daily. If you’re like me, this is easier said than done.
It’s not that you need to write daily for the money but it’s a job that you love doing. I struggle to feel useful if I don’t write daily!
However, it is important to take some time off. I always make sure I have the weekends off. I have a full day where I don’t write anything at all. I’m just not on the computer. That’s necessary to protect my health, mentally and physically.
What are you doing to manage your carpal tunnel syndrome? Let me know in the comments below.
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