Most of us spend our youth never worrying about such annoying things as hearing loss, carpal tunnel syndrome, or bladder control issues. But when you hit 45, you suddenly start regretting spending all those hours at rock concerts without ear protection. We think about how we have abused our bodies. We take a carpal tunnel test, and see that we may have the beginnings of a problem.
We wonder if maybe we would feel better if we would have taken better care of ourselves in our 20s and 30s. But no matter how old you are, it is never too late to begin a healthier lifestyle.
Here are some ways to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome.
Before we discuss ways of preventing carpal tunnel, let’s first talk about what it is.
The carpal tunnel is the passageway that lies at the base of each hand. It holds the tendons that move the fingers. The passageway also includes a nerve, which extends from the forearm to the palm.
If you tend to overuse your hands, the tendons inside this passageway become swollen. When the tendons swell, they may interfere with the nerves that also lie in the same passageway. These pinched nerves can cause pain in the hands and wrists.
How do you keep carpal tunnel syndrome from happening to you? Here are five ways.
Give yourself a break
As much as you are able, take a break from the repetitive activity that may cause stress on your hands or wrists. If you are repeating a repetitive movement with a tool or spending a lot of time typing on a keyboard, your wrists aren’t the only things that may need a break. Stop the activity five to ten minutes per hour.
Stretch it out
Rotate your wrists, stretch your hands, and circle and flex your fingers. Not only will stretching an overused area feel good, but it also may reduce the chances of developing this syndrome.
Keep your wrists neutral
Since keyboarding often causes carpal tunnel syndrome, make sure you are following best practices when sitting in front of your computer.
Adjust your keyboard, so you don’t have to bend your wrists to reach the keys. Do not bend your wrists up or down, but you also shouldn’t turn your wrists to the side either. If you are having a difficult time feeling comfortable in front of a keyboard, you may need to invest in something larger.
Pay attention to how you sleep
If you wake up in the morning with sore wrists caused by curling your arms during the night, you may need to change your sleeping position. Since this is easier said than done, you may want to wear a wrist brace when you go to bed.
Keep your hands warm
Cold environments cause stiffness in our joints. If you work in an unusually cold office, consider wearing fingerless gloves as you type on the computer.
As either Aesop, Ben Franklin, or our mother always said, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Follow best practices now so you can feel ache-free well into your fifties and sixties.