Five Tips for Keeping Your Wrists Healthy

In my fourth year of university, I made the mistake of getting permission to take six classes while editing a literary magazine, hosting a radio show, being on the executive committee of the college radio station, and tutoring. Yes, I have hoarder mentality of more is more; this is at the core of many of the problems I've suffered over the years. Instead of doing one project I'll try to do four at once at the expense of my physical and mental health. Over the past few years I've really worked to reduce clutter in all areas of my life, so things are more under control. 

So what happened when I tried to take on this amount of work? I developed repetitive stress injury in my wrists. At one point it hurt so much to drive that I mostly stayed home, played Scrabble, drank gin, and consumed the most random movies of our time. (The other day I was watching 13 Reasons Why with my friend J and Gregg Araki's name came up as a director and I said HE DIRECTED GENERATION DOOM AND DISCOVERED ROSE MCGOWAN SMOKING OUTSIDE A GYM. J had never heard of the film, probably because she was nine when it was released. Also, I noticed that Jessica Yu, director of Ping Pong Playa directed a few episodes. I digress.)

It took me many years to get my wrist pain under control, but I learned so much along the way. If you're experiencing issues with your wrists, go to a doctor immediately. 

1. BALANCE

Work in twenty-five-minute segments and always take a five-minute break where you get up and walk away from the computer. Every two hours you need to take a twenty-minute break.

2. MOVE

If you're able to, schedule in a thirty-minute walk every single day. When my wrist pain was at its worst I did a lot of yoga, but it was ashtanga, so I was putting a lot of weight on my wrists and didn't help that much. The walk will let you rest while getting the blood flowing through your body.

3. STRETCH

Do wrist stretches. Your physiotherapist will show you the correct ones for your specific injury.

If you're finding the pain extends through your elbow or that your fingers are falling asleep, you may need to stretch the muscles in your chest. You can roll up a blanket into a long tube and lie with it along your spine and open up your arms face up to the ceiling.  Lie like this for as long as you can, increasing the time until you can do it for ten to fifteen minutes to relax the muscle. This is where podcasts come in really handy. 

4. DISRUPT

Reset how your wrists are communicating with your mind with contrast baths. Buy two dish tubs. Fill one with really hot water (top it up with some boiling water if needed) and one with cold water. Submerge your forearms into the warm tub for three minutes, then switch to the cold tub for one minute. Alternate: do warm four times and cold three times. You'll want to end on the warm one to ensure you don't injure yourself.

5. COMMUNE

Ask for help beyond medical advice. It helps to know that other people in your life have gone through this. They will be able to show you ways to manage your pain and to heal. 

Also, don't be afraid to let your workplace or school know if your injury. When I was at university, I registered with the Disability Resource Centre and it changed my life. I was no longer alone and I was given access to resources to complete my courses without making my wrists worse. Also, since my scholastic performance had suffered, by reporting the problem when it started academic advisors were much more forgiving and ensured that I was able to apply for grad school without any issues.