Changing Your Computing Habits
If you are starting to feel tingling and pain in your hands, wrists, or neck, you need to listen to your body’s signals that there is a problem. Unfortunately, the only way to beat this type of repetitive stress injury is to stop doing the movement that is causing the pain, there is no other quick fix. This entails completely changing your computing habits from the ones that are causing the pain and irritation, which is easier said than done.
Here is a list of techniques that we have found to work:
- Stop gripping the mouse – Those small, delicate muscles and tendons in your hand, arm and elbow cannot take the strain described in the picture to the right. In fact, if you are feeling pain at the moment, you need to make a drastic change to this hand position. You must get your hand more upright in its natural position until you no longer feel the pain while computing. Ways to achieve this include using a trackball mouse, an upright mouse, and/or a natural keyboard.
- Take frequent breaks – We know how hard this is with online poker specifically, however, it is a must. Especially if you are currently feeling symptoms, that means your body desperately needs a break. Depending on the extent of your injuries, you may need to take a break from the computer every 20 minutes for 5-10 minutes. During this break, you need to stretch and do activities OTHER than computing. This includes no holding a cell phone, no touch screen on your smart phone, no holding the remote control, you need to take a solid break from the computing positions that are hurting you and sometimes these occur away from the computer too! There are many computer programs out there that will actually alert you when you have been working for xx minutes and tell you to take a break, take advantage of these programs if that is what you need to “remember” to take a break.
- Stretch and strengthen to fight back – A great way to rehab and fight back against these types of injuries is to strengthen the area that is affected. I know this sounds strange to stretch and strengthen tissue that is already in pain, but you must to get these muscles and tendons moving and break up some of the scar tissue that is forming as you continue to abuse that area. Get into a push up routine, do some wrist curls, stretch out the tendons in your arms (see example stretching exercise to the right). Please do these routines lightly, but consistently to get the best results.
- Stop using the laptop touch pad – These touch pads look nice and are convenient, but in reality they are terrible in ergonomic terms. Using the touch pad on a laptop on a regular basis with ensure that the tender muslces and tendons in your arms will be fully stretched and pinched on the hard surface of the laptop. You are much better off to get an external mouse and/or wireless trackball (highly recommended).