Is wrist pain interfering with your yoga practice or Pilates workout? Part II of our series outlines how to prevent and correct wrist pain. Part I of the series, on the origins and causes, can be found here.
The objective of modifying your schedule is to reduce how often and how long you spend doing the pain inducing task. Urgent deadlines, productivity ratings or financial stress are real factors that contribute to overuse injuries. Many smart industries have implemented job rotation and other programs to reduce Repetitive Stress (or Strain) Injury (RSI) in the workplace, thus saving money on workman’s compensation claims and lost productivity. There are several practical ways to modify your schedule and reduce overuse or injury.
- Part Time Work: Try a M/W/F schedule, allowing a day of rest in between.
- Plan Ahead: Instead of spending 6 hours banging out a report on the computer spread it out over 4 days for 1 ½ hour each day.
- Set Time Limits: Break up the problem task into shorter time segments with rest and stretch breaks built into your day.
- Job Sharing/Rotation: Can you recruit a co-worker to assist you or swap tasks with? Look at all options for creative scheduling.
The objective here is to use an alternate method to accomplish the task, which may require a different set of muscles or reduce muscle tension and joint stress.
- Change the Method: If you’re a Pilates instructor with a wrist injury, give verbal cues and directions instead of demonstrations. Consciously reduce keyboard time by limiting your email correspondence. Pick up the phone and make a quick call instead.
- Change or Modify the Tool: Examples include using a track ball instead of a mouse, substitute an electric tool for a hand tool and increasing the diameter of the tool to open the grasp of the fingers and thumb.
- Modify your Body Position: Use an ergonomic keyboard, set up your ‘work station’ optimally for your body and alternate standing with sitting.
- Use your non-dominant hand: If your wrist pain is primarily in your dominant hand try to develop the skill to accomplish the task with your non-dominant hand. Start with something simple like stirring while cooking or dialing the phone then work towards using your computer mouse with your opposing hand. This may be challenging but is very useful and good for your coordination.
Whether it’s an occupation or leisure pursuit that’s resulting in RSI, do strengthening exercises and stretches that move your body, limbs & joints in the opposite direction of the repetitive motions that cause pain. Computer use is a big culprit of wrist pain, since many people now spend hours of their day at a keyboard and monitor. The typical computer posture takes its toll on your back, neck, arms and hands – possibly resulting in Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS).
Break up long hours at the computer by scheduling intermittent breaks to stand up, move around and stretch. Below are a few simple stretches you should pencil in your schedule to help with wrist pain relief (hold each for 3-5 deep breaths):
Shoulders & arms: Reach back from the shoulder rotating the spine, straighten your elbow and rotate your palm up, extend the wrist slightly or keep neutral then straighten and spread the fingers apart. Deepen the stretch by rotating the neck so your face is turned away from your stretched arm. Repeat with the other arm.
Get the full, illustrated guides for stretching from WAGs! BONUS! A simple and healthy way to incorporate this routine into your day is to drink lots of water. Every time you get up for a bathroom break, do your stretches before resuming work.
Recap | Pain, Pain, Go Away!
If you are experiencing pain, take time to determine the culprit. Overuse of a keyboard or other repetitive activity may be an underlying cause of your wrist pain. If your injuries stem from overuse, first try to rest. Next modify the activity through creative scheduling and use of alternative methods, tools or props, such as WAGs.
It’s also important to develop a stretching & strengthening program to counteract the negative effects of repetitive movements on muscles and joints. Our bodies were designed to move in a multitude of directions, so mix it up – add variety and “spice” up your workouts! You will find balance in your practice and routines. Even wearing wrist protection gloves like our WAGs could help with wrist pain relief.