When you think of work-related injuries, the first thing that may come to mind is someone slipping, lifting something heavy, or some sort of labor-related incident.
What doesn’t come to mind is an injury from “typing on a keyboard”………………….. because how could someone possibly get injured from typing?
What these three work-related injury examples have in common is they all happened from one instance. No one gets injured from typing just once, its an accumulation of improper posture or positioning over an extended period of time. These injuries may develop into musculoskeletal disorders or MSDs.
As defined by the CDC:
Musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) are injuries or disorders of the muscles, nerves, tendons, joints, cartilage, and spinal discs. Work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSD) are conditions in which:
- The work environment and performance of work contribute significantly to the condition; and/or
- The condition is made worse or persists longer due to work conditions
Keeping MSDs in mind, here are some tips to avoid pain while typing.
Purchase an ergonomic keyboard:
If you’re feeling discomfort when typing the first thing you should consider is the keyboard you’re using. There are plenty of ergonomic keyboards to choose from nowadays with all different types of designs. An ergonomic keyboard could have a curve to it in order to promote a more natural hand position which avoids twisting at the wrists.
A great example of such a keyboard is the Microsoft Curve keyboard. Another type is the split keyboard, which quite literally splits in half to have separation in both hands and avoid ulnar deviation or twisting the wrist outward. The Kinesis Freestyle2 keyboard is a great example.
Position your keyboard:
The position of your keyboard may be causing you to reach, or bend your wrists in a way that causes discomfort. Your keyboard shouldn’t be too far ahead of you where you need to reach out to type. When your keyboard is too far ahead, you engage muscles in the arm unnecessarily causing strain. Don’t have your keyboard too close to you either where your arms cramped. This can cause awkward angles in your elbows and wrists. The proper placement for your keyboard will position your elbows at your side and forearms parallel to the floor as further explained in this OSHA article. Consider raising or lowering your keyboard to accomplish a neutral wrist position and don’t use keyboard feet if it causes bending.
Perhaps there isn’t much ability to position your keyboard differently. In this case, position your body so it causes less discomfort. Raise or lower the height of your chair so that your shoulders are relaxed, elbows at your side at about the same level of your keyboard, and forearms parallel to the ground. Don’t put pressure on your wrists while you type, this pressure may cause discomfort and in order to put pressure on your wrists, you’d have to bend them at an awkward angle. Allow your wrists to float in the air and avoid pressing down on keys harder than is necessary.
Explore Using a keyboard tray:
To achieve proper posture and remain as comfortable as possible while typing, the position of your keyboard is vital. Unfortunately, not all work stations allow the possibility to place your keyboard or body in a proper position. This is where a keyboard tray can come in handy. Keyboard trays go under the desk and allow different heights and angles for you to work from. If typing is causing you pain, keyboard trays offer precise adjustability to fit the needs of your body exactly.
Take it easy:
Your work is important, but so is your health. Allow yourself a chance to rest from the task at hand, this may even give you the boost to get a few more things done. Take a break from your typing every 30 minutes of work, take a microbreak to stretch and reset your posture. Spread out the work that you’re doing, make calls, file paperwork, refill your water whatever is necessary so you aren’t typing the entire work shift. Try standing up, twisting, rolling your neck and stretching your wrists. Taking adequate breaks is important in your long term health.
With all of the stress on your plate from life and work having discomfort or pain form typing isn’t necessary. Trying out new things when typing may be tedious but you have nothing to lose in doing so. These tips aren’t meant to work individually. Combining tips allows for more comfort and reduces the risk of developing an MSD. Comfort and proper posture are of the utmost importance in ensuring health over a long period.
Does Your Company Have an Ergonomic Assessment Program?
Pacific Ergonomics provides full-service ergonomic solutions including San Diego ergonomic assessments from ergonomists who have 7-25 years of experience, consulting, training, and more. Call for a free consultation on how we can help your Southern California company. 619-546-0872