Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Day 9: Pain and Ergonomics

This is one of those times when guidelines can aid the writing process, rather than slowing you down. As someone who underwent carpal tunnel surgery, it was a little late when I discovered that adjusting my seating, the height and angle of my keyboard (so my wrists weren't bent back), the size of a pen or pencil and the pressure applied when writing could help head off this injury.

Part of the problem is genetic, so many of you could conceivably do your worst and never suffer a day of being unable to write. (And even surgery doesn't have to stop you from writing because of voice recognition programs that help you tell a story in the oral tradition.)

This entry focuses on the ergonomics involved in writing with a pencil or pen. The University of California--Los Angeles (UCLA) offers a number of suggestions for avoiding injury and continuing to write at

  • Keep your weight off your forearm.
  • Position your elbow at 90 degrees or more, because wrist and hand strain increases past that point.
  • Relax your fingers. If your knuckles or fingers turn white and cold when you are writing, you are putting too much pressure on yourself and the pencil or pen.
  • Give your fingers a break by using the wrist and forearm to move a pen or pencil.
  • Instead of writing on a desk or propped up on a table, put the pad in your lap with the top of the pad pointed toward the ground and keep your wrist relaxed.
  • If your thumb hurts, adjust the pen in the webbed space between your index and middle fingers.
  • Write in a large, cursive style rather than printing.
  • Use large diameter pens, but make sure they are lighter, and pencils. Rubber grips can also help remind you to loosen your grip.
  • Find pens that feel good in your hand and easily flow, such as ink fountain pens, roller balls and gel ink pens.
  • Give yourself breaks. If it starts to hurt, get up for a glass of water and walk around for a few minutes, at least.  
 As always, this is about listening to your body and following your inspiration.

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