Written by Michele Wheat
Writing can be a job that involves a lot of passion, but sometimes, sitting down and thinking of something to write isn't the hardest part. Sure, writer's block can be hard to manage sometimes, but what if you have plenty of ideas but you're in too much pain to do any writing? Repetitive stress injuries can arise when you spend a lot of time at your computer typing or even when you hand-write often. These injuries can put a damper on getting any writing done at all.
How Do Hand-Writing and Typing Affect Your Hands and Wrists?
Either writing by hand or typing every day can hurt your hands and wrists, especially if you don't have an ergonomic setup. When you're typing, the angle of your wrists and the positioning of your keyboard are critical; when you type with your wrists bent, it hurts your wrists. Constant use of your mouse can be painful, too, because your hand is not meant to be bent like that for hours at a time. And even writing by hand can cause your hand to cramp up over time, especially if you're bending your hand and wrist in an awkward position.
What Can You Do to Protect Your Hands and Wrists?
If you write often, there are some small steps you can take to prevent wrist and hand injuries and avoid worsening an existing injury:
- Avoid leaning on your forearm.
- Keep your elbow positioned at an angle of 90 degrees or more; strain on your wrist and hand increase when your elbow is bent further.
- Don't curl your knuckles; keep your fingers relaxed.
- Reduce finger motions by using your wrist and forearm to move your pen rather than putting that pressure on your fingers.
- Move your writing paper often to different angles or write on an inclined surface. This keeps your wrist relaxed.
- Try holding your pen in the web between your index and middle fingers if you notice that writing is hurting your thumb.
- If you're writing by hand, write larger and in print. Cursive and smaller letters cause more strain.
- Replace standard pens with fountain pens or gel pens.
- Take frequent breaks to stretch your hands and wrists.
Hand Health Resources
- Modifications to Pen Grip for Writing by Hand: A certified hand therapist gives advice for writers about a better way to grip a pen or pencil to lessen the pain of writing.
- Healthy Writing Habits: All in the Wrist: Writer's Digest offers four healthy writing tips to help you avoid wrist pain.
- Writing Can Cause Premature Death? How to Avoid Wrist Pain, Headaches, and More: Writing is a more hazardous job than you may think! Spending a lot of time writing at your computer can lead to a multitude of health issues you may not have known about.
- What Causes Writer's Cramp and How it Is Treated: Writer's cramp can affect your fingers, hand, and arm when you perform a particular task over and over again, such as typing, sewing, or playing a musical instrument.
- Writer's Cramp (Hand Dystonia): This article about writer's cramp discusses the symptoms, cause, and treatment of writer's cramp, which is also known as hand dystonia.
- Six Great Stretches for Writers: When you spend a lot of time typing, it can be beneficial to take a moment to stretch your fingers, hands, and arms regularly, especially if you don't have an ergonomic setup. Here are a few stretches you can try.
- Not Writer's Block: How to Cope if You Physically Can't Write: Writer's block isn't the only thing that can slow you down when you're a writer. Physical pain can be a real detriment to sitting and typing every day. Here are a few tips about how to cope with writer's cramp.
- Treating Writer's Hand Pain: Learn about how to keep your most important writing tools functioning properly.
- Repetitive Strain Injury Explained: This article discusses common symptoms of a repetitive strain injury, how to diagnose it, how to treat it, and how to prevent it.
- Exercises for Writers and Other Desk Slaves: This page has a few exercises for writers and other people who work at a desk all day.
- Finger, Hand, and Wrist Problems: HealthLink BC offers information about minor finger, hand, and wrist injuries due to overuse.
- Wrist Pain: Penn Medicine goes over the definition of wrist pain, its root causes, and what you can do at home to mitigate the pain.
- Writing With an Overuse Injury: This page offers a few tips for writing by hand when you have a repetitive strain injury.
- Repetitive Strain Injury: Learn about repetitive strain injuries, how to prevent them, and what you can do for yourself if you develop one.
- When to See a Doctor About Wrist Pain: Trying to decide if you should see a doctor for your wrist pain? This page offers a few common causes of wrist pain and what the treatment for them might be to help you make an informed decision.
- What Your Handwriting May Say About Your Health: If you're struggling to write or you notice that your handwriting is different than it used to be, this could be an indicator of a health issue.
- How to Avoid Wrist Pain From Typing: Typing all the time can lead to wrist pain. This page offers some tips and information about how to avoid wrist pain while you write.
- Hand and Wrist Stretches for Computer and Smartphone Users: Do you write on your computer a lot or spend a lot of time jotting down notes on your phone? Here are a few stretches you can try when your wrists start to bother you after technology overuse.
- Seven Ways to Stretch and Strengthen Your Wrists: This article offers seven stretches that can not only ease your wrist pain but also strengthen your wrists.
- Writing Can Be Hazardous to Your Health: Here are a list of common health complaints for writers and what you can do to reduce your risk of these injuries.
- Thumb Pain? Try These Eight Exercises: If your fingers hurt after spending so much time writing due to a repetitive strain injury, here are a few easy stretches you can do at home for relief.
- Ergonomic Writing Tips: This page offers tips from professionals to help writers with proper ergonomic writing technique in order to reduce the risk of hand and arm pain.
- Hand Warm-Up Exercises: Find a lot of great exercises here that writers can do in order to avoid strain and injury.
- Writing With RSI: Top Tips for Indie Authors: This blog post lists tips and tricks specifically for authors who are dealing with a repetitive strain injury.