If you’re a regular visitor to 3KidsandUs.com, then you hopefully know that it’s run by a family of go-getters who said goodbye to the corporate jungle and embraced life as digital nomads (and teach others to do the same!) Indeed, all we basically need is a laptop and access to the ‘net, and we can be as productive as folks in Fortune 500 enterprises — and much, much happier.
However, just like any other lifestyle choice, there are rewards and risks. And when it comes to the latter, one thing that almost everyone has to watch out for these days — but especially fellow digital nomads who spend hours a day typing and clicking — is a condition known as computer elbow.
Like it’s more familiar cousin tennis elbow, computer elbow is marked by the onset of pain in the fingers, hands and/or arms; especially (but not exclusively) the elbows. The bad news is that for a lot of people, computer elbow to some degree is unavoidable since they type and click all day — and sometimes, all night!
The good news, however, is that in most cases computer elbow can be reversed over time. Here’s the game plan:
- Take a break! Yes, trust me: I know this is easier said than done. But time is the greatest healer, and your weary, aching fingers, wrists, forearms and (of course) elbow will thank you. Heck, even jet airplanes need rest from time to time.
- Loosen up your taught, cold muscles and tendons prior to heading onto the digital landscape. Try this: extend your arm in front of you, and place the back of your hand against the wall (with fingers pointed to the side). Then, straighten your elbow and press against the wall. Hold this pose for a minute. This is a great way to stretch out your wrist. Just remember to do this gently, and immediately stop at the first sign of pain. It should feel good!
- Use ice to reduce swelling and diminish pain. You can also alternate between hot and cold to increase blood circulation (about 5-10 minutes of cold, then 5-10 minutes of hot, repeated 2-3 times or as desired).
What’s more, your gear — or lack thereof — may be part of the problem. Don’t raise the back of your keyboard, keep your shoulders relaxed as you type, and use a wrist pad. Yes, I know it’s not all that convenient to lug one around, but it’s the lesser of two evils if it helps keep computer elbow at bay!
Some Final Advice
If the pain in your fingers, wrist, forearm and/or elbow persists — and especially if it worsens — then don’t ignore it: it’s not going to get better, it’s going to get worse. Speak with your doctor, who may refer you to an orthopedic surgeon for a deeper look.