A Writer's Guide to Healthy Wrists and Hands

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