The hands and wrists represent some of the most crucial points of your entire body. From filling out forms on your computer to grabbing your phone to hit the alarm’s snooze button, you use your hands and wrists to complete most—if not all—of your tasks throughout the day. As such, it’s only logical that you try to protect them adequately from any kind of pain and injury.
Aside from uncomfortable strains, awkward posture and careless movements can cause various issues in your hands and wrists, potentially even exacerbating others. For instance, gout is a form of arthritis with symptoms such as swollen, sore, and painful joints. Carpal tunnel syndrome is another condition that affects the wrists and hands, and it’s characterized by nerve compression in the wrists.
Conditions like these can be unbearable, but you can keep them from worsening or prevent them altogether through mindful practices. This article will give you some tips and tricks on how to keep your hands and wrists healthy not only to prevent hand-related ailments, but to make everyday living more comfortable and hassle-free.
Tips To Prevent Wrist and Hand Pain
Mind Your Positioning and Posture
The way your hands and wrists are positioned plays a critical role in how they stay safe from pain and injury. Poor posture can lead to unbalanced pressure on muscles and tissues, which may lead to long-term damage. In order to maintain good posture, make sure to pay attention to your surroundings and make adjustments for your own comfort.
If you work a desk job, make sure that your workspace is ergonomic enough to allow comfortable movement of the hands and wrists. Your workplace should allow you to relax your shoulders, keep your back straight, and let your hands rest on your keyboard or mouse. You can achieve this ergonomic setup by keeping the keyboard, mouse, and screen directly in front of you so that you can work in a natural position. Keeping your workspace veered off to your side requires you to twist your torso, which can worsen hand and wrist problems.
It’s also ideal to place your mouse and keyboard close enough to the front of your desk and at elbow height. Having your workspace within a comfortable distance enables you to work in a relaxed position, plus it keeps you from having to bend your wrists to type or use your mouse. This is also the reason why it’s highly recommended to keep your items at the same level as your elbows and forearms.
Keep Your Touch Soft
Throughout the day, you may be unaware that you’re putting too much strain on your hands and wrists. Perhaps you’re gripping things too tightly, or maybe you type in harsh keystrokes. When working, don’t forget to pay attention to the force and pressure you might be inflicting on yourself. It might help to keep your touch soft and only use pressure and firmness as necessary (i.e., opening a jar of mayonnaise).
Don’t Overexert One Hand
Repetitive motions and an unbalanced distribution of pressure are some of the most common causes of pain and injury to the hands and wrists. With this, it’s important to avoid doing repetitive motions and switch up the hands that are doing the work. For example, if you tend to do tasks with your right hand, you should try as much as possible to periodically do tasks with your left hand instead.
If you’re doing tasks that depend on your left- or right-handedness, make sure to give the “main hand” a break every now and then. For tasks that take up much of your workday such as writing or using a stylus and graphics tablet, it would be ideal to rest your working hand for around 10-15 minutes every hour.
Do Simple Exercises
Quick exercises that you can do from your desk go a long way in protecting your hands and wrists. When giving your hands a break, consider balling your fists and opening them to extend your fingers as far as you could. Do this 5-10 times for adequate wrist motion.
Aside from fist movements, you can do wrist stretching from your desk, too. To flex your wrists, raise your arm directly in front of you and pull your wrist backward using your free hand. Hold your wrist in place for 15 seconds, and do this three times. To extend your wrists, place your arm in the same position except with your palm facing up. Use your other hand to tug your hand down for a mild stretch. You can make this motion three times and hold your wrist for 15 seconds as well.
Be Sensitive to Mild Pains
Some people feel pain in their hands and wrists regularly but think nothing of it and brush them off. While a mild tingle here and there is not usually a cause for concern, they might signal something wrong in your body when they become persistent. If you sense tenderness, pain, or any feeling of discomfort in the hand and wrist area, it’s best to pay attention to these signs and consult your doctor for preventive measures.
Abide by a Healthy Diet
Prevention is always better than cure, and you can eliminate the chances of experiencing hand injuries and pains by eating healthy food. In particular, it would help to increase bone density in your hands to make them strong enough to withstand daily tasks. To keep your bones healthy, include lots of calcium in your diet through foods such as dairy products, soy, broccoli, almonds, spinach, sardines, and canned salmon.
In addition, you may want to prevent gout which causes painful inflammation in your joints. Typically, gout flare-ups occur due to high levels of uric acid in your body. To lower your risk of getting gout, consider drinking lots of water, avoiding excessive alcohol consumption, and maintaining a healthy diet. It would also help to avoid purine-rich food like red meat and organ meat (game meats and liver) that tend to raise the body’s uric acid levels. Additionally, it’s best to avoid too much seafood, especially herring, anchovies, and scallops that are high in purines and could trigger gout episodes.
Safeguard Your Daily Life by Protecting Your Hands
With our hands bearing the burden of most of our daily activities, it’s often hard to focus on keeping them healthy enough for everyday tasks. Still, you can strive to be proactive rather than reactive when it comes to caring for your hands and wrists. You just need a degree of mindfulness over the food you eat, the environment you work in, and the sensations that might be telling you that your hands need extra care. And as always, don’t forget to consult a professional when in doubt about what you’re feeling. Your health is important, and the decisions that lead to the betterment of your body lie in your hands.