How Traders Can Avoid Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
We talk a lot here at EZ Trading Computers about making sure your computer system is as fast as possible. But what about your own personal speed—the speed of your ‘physical’ system?
The two key parts of a trader’s physical system most likely to cause speed issues are the brain (are you alert?) and the hand (does it work smoothly and quickly?).
Setting aside for now the issue of alertness, most traders take their mouse hand for granted… until they suddenly feel a sharp pain in their wrist, and just as suddenly, can barely type or click without significant pain. You probably already recognize that what I’m describing here is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS).
Hopefully, you’ve never experienced the pain of CTS. The question is, what can you do now, if anything, to prevent it?
According to the Mayo Clinic, there are “no proven strategies to prevent Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.” Nevertheless, there are things you can do to minimize stress on your hands and wrists, and give yourself the best possible chance of avoiding CTS.
1. Reduce your typing force and relax the grip on your mouse. Trading can be stressful at times. Be aware of stress coming out through your hands. If you start pounding the keyboard, try something safer (for your hands), like squeezing a rubber ball.
2. Take frequent breaks. You probably already know that looking away from the screen periodically is good for your eyes. While you’re doing that, give your wrist and hands a quick break as well. Gently bend and rotate wrists, stretch fingers, clench and unclench your hands.
3. Use proper form as you work. Avoid extreme bends in your wrist, up or down. Keep wrists in a relaxed middle position. Put your keyboard at elbow height or slightly lower. If your desk surface is too high, try a height-adjustable keyboard tray.
4. Watch your posture. When you let your shoulders roll forward, you can compress the nerves in your neck, affecting your wrists, fingers, and hands.
5. Keep your hands and wrists warm. Perpetually cold hands are more likely to develop pain and stiffness. If you can’t control the temperature in your office, or if the rest of you likes it that cold, try wearing fingerless gloves.
6. Exercise your wrists and hands. Consider adding some of these exercises to your routine: wrist rotations, finger stretches, rubber ball squeezes, wrist curls with a light weight. (But cut back or stop if any of this causes pain or swelling.)
Here are a couple of additional articles on exercises to help avoid CTS:
7. Stop or at least avoid activities that cause finger, hand, or wrist numbness or pain.
8. If possible, vary your positions during the day. For example, if you’re going to be mousing a lot, try sitting a little bit sideways at your desk so that your forearm can rest on the desk. Or try using your other hand to operate the mouse (at a time when you know speed of operation isn’t a concern).
9. If you sense you’re starting to have problems with your wrists or hands, try a wrist brace. However, do NOT wear it during the day. Wear it at night to avoid bending your wrist too much during sleep.
10. Keep the rest of your physical system healthy. Watch your weight, exercise, don’t smoke, be careful with salt. You know the drill. Your body is a system of interdependent parts. Problems in one area can cause problems elsewhere.
In the end, maintaining your physical system is just as important to trading success as maintaining your hardware and software. So take care of yourself.
We hope today’s Quick Tip helped you. If you found this helpful, you’ll want to check out the other computer How-To’s I’ve created on this page. You can always call us if you have questions: 800-387-5250