Keep Wrists Straight

The wrists are another part of the body that easily adopt awkward postures throughout the day.  Consider some occupations such as computer users, dentists and dental hygienists, surgeons, mechanics, farmers, and musicians – all of these workers assume awkward wrist postures through wrist flexion (hand flexes down), extension (hand extends upwards), ulnar deviation (hand moves sideways on thumb side) and radial deviation (hand moves sideways on pinky side).  When you combine awkward posture with other ergonomic risk factors such as force, static posture, contact stress, and repetition; you may end up with some pretty sore wrists, hands, fingers, arms, and elbows (problems with the wrist can extend out to other parts of the arm).  Here are some tips:

  • Try to keep the wrists as straight as possible during the day – For computer users, this means raising or lowering the keyboard so your wrists don’t flex or extend.  For other occupations, this means making sure your work level is neither too high or too low to promote wrist flexion or extension.
  • Try not to deviate wrists (bend sideways) – For computer users, this means considering a split-angle keyboard to keep wrists in line.  For other workers, it means adjusting posture or using different tools to avoid deviation, (e.g. knives with a 90 degree angle, pliers with bent handles)
  • Take frequent breaks – Especially in the case of musicians who can not change their postures easily.  5 minute breaks every half-hour are recommended.
  • Stretch and strengthen wrists – To lengthen tight muscles and tendons and to increase force output with less strain.
  • Avoid contact stress – Don’t let your wrists rest on any sharp surfaces.
  • Rotate tasks – Try to change tasks frequently to give your wrists a break.  This allows the blood to flow freely through muscles and tissues, and with luck, repair any damage.
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