Wrist Pain From Typing? You’re Probably Not Doing THIS

Evan Jensen

Do you get wrist pain from typing?

You know…first there’s a little cramping in your wrists and fingers. Maybe a burning sensation, tingling, numbness, or weakness.

And you’re thinking, “I don’t have time for this.”

Because you’ve got deadlines, assignments, more freelance marketing work to do. And then there’s the crush of email.

So you ignore that wrist pain from typing…and power through it, because you’re bound and determined to make a living writing.

Only that wrist pain from typing doesn’t really go away. Some days it radiates all the way up your arm.

If you take a day off from pounding the keyboard, you might get some relief.

But when you’re back at it, chasing deadlines, drumming up freelance work, and trying to stay on top of all those emails, it usually comes back.

Been there, done that?

I’ve been paid to write as a staffer and freelancer for 20 years. That’s a lot of keyboard time. And I’ve had my share of wrist pain from typing.

But when I started doing this ONE thing, it went away…pretty much for good.

If you have wrist pain from typing, you’re probably not doing this…

My ‘wrist pain from typing’ turning point

I was on a 2 a.m. deadline as a reporter to file a city council story for The Liberty Lake Splash newspaper near Spokane, Wash.

At the time, I had a lot of wrist pain from typing, writing extra stories, putting out a special edition, and freelancing for The Spokesman Review.

It’d been that way for a long time. And I wondered if the wrist pain from typing was…

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome. It’s a condition caused by pressure on the median nerve that runs through the arm and passes through a narrow tunnel in the wrist.
  • When this happens, it can cause numbness, tingling, weakness, and a burning sensation in your hand, wrist, fingers, and arm.

And I dreaded the thought:

“What if I need surgery…in both wrists? I’ll be off work for weeks.”

I walked out of that late-night meeting, popped some ibuprofen, took a swig of Mountain Dew, and filed that story a couple hours later…wrists on fire.

The Band-Aid fix to pain-free writing

If you’ve ever had wrist pain from typing, (that’s probably most freelance writers) you’ve probably looked for ways to find relief. I had to do something, and I think I tried everything short of surgery. This included:

  • Ibuprofen
  • Braces to stabilize the wrist
  • Gel pads for my keyboard
  • A wrist-friendly mouse
  • One of those ergonomic keyboards with a wavy design

Nothing really seemed to work

Although, I didn’t try acupuncture, which has been proven to help treat carpal tunnel symptoms, according to a study published in the Journal of Research in Medical Sciences.

The only time I really felt relief was when I spent a day or two away from typing.

Sound familiar? This isn’t a good option if you plan to make a living writing. Cause let’s face it, as a freelance writer, you’re going to be typing,..a lot.

The accidental cure to wrist pain from typing

I thought surgery might be inevitable to fix my wrist pain from typing. And then something happened by accident that changed everything:

  • I signed up for a strength training class at the Spokane Valley YMCA.
  • A personal trainer took my measurements, gave me some tips on running long-distance races, and asked me a bunch of questions about what I do for work (typing and sitting). Wrist pain from typing came up, and he gave me some homework.
  • For the next four weeks, I lifted weights three days a week. I got a little stronger and leaner.

But the best part…my wrist pain from typing was GONE.

The freelance writer’s fix for wrist pain

If you have wrist pain from typing, you don’t have to give up freelancing. And you don’t have to become a gym rat.

But there are some things you can do to alleviate the pain, and avoid surgery so you can make a living writing.

1. Save your money

The Band-Aid fixes for wrist pain and carpal tunnel syndrome, provide some temporary relief. But they’re not a long-term solution.

2. Adjust your workstation

As a freelancer, you’ve got the luxury of working anywhere…like from your bed if you want.

But when you’re at your computer, your wrists should be in a neutral position, not bent or angled in a funky way.

3. Take short breaks from typing

Make it a habit during your work day. This doesn’t have to be long. Just a minute or two throughout your workday.

Stop typing, and stretch your hands, fingers and wrists like this:

  • Rotate your wrists up and down, and side to side. Apply pressure with one hand to stretch your wrist.
  • Stretch your fingers far apart. Hold for 3-5 seconds, and repeat.
  • Shake out your hands and wrists like you’re trying to air dry after washing.

Note: Honestly, I don’t do any of the exercise above anymore, because strength training is the thing that fixed my wrist pain from typing.

4. Strength train at least two days a week

You should do this at least two days a week, anyways. It’s what the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends for all adults.

  • Lift weights.
  • Do bodyweight exercises like push-ups, lunges, planks, and crunches.
  • Dust off your weight set, dumbbells, or exercise machine and use it.

5. If you don’t get relief from wrist pain from typing…

See a doctor for a diagnosis and treatment. You may need surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome, or something else may be causing your wrist pain.

Keep typing to make a living writing

If you want to make a living writing, you and your keyboard need to get along…pain free, so you can land new clients, crush every deadline and make money.

Do you have wrist pain from typing? Let’s discuss in the comments.

Evan Jensen is a freelance copywriter and blog editor for Make a Living Writing. He’s also a personal trainer and ultramarathon runner.

Grow Your Writing Income. FreelanceWritersDen.com

42 Comments

  1. Max Russell

    Hey Evan, thanks for sharing this information. We seem to be spending even more time on our laptops amid the pandemic. Wrist pain is very common, and a lot of people tend to ignore it till it becomes chronic.

    Reply
    • Evan Jensen

      I’m wondering when this starts showing up in kids, now that so many have been doing online school for months.

  2. Linda A Hamilton

    I have carpel tunnel in both wrists but not because I’ve been typing for over 50 years. When it was discovered, the doctor said I had the worst case he’d ever seen and I needed immediate surgery in both hands or I’d lose their use. So I had the surgery within a few weeks getting both wrists done within a week of each other. The doctor told me to keep working while healing, and it was one of my busiest writing times, so I did.

    Now, I use therabands instead of weights. Cheap at your local drug store or buy from Amazon. I use them for resistance training since I can’t use my home gym set up. Also have 6 lb dumbells to use, or fill a bottle with water and use it for very low impact weight training.

    I’ve always worked out. Have a home gym that I can’t use right now due to small living conditions. But I walk as much as possible and use the therabands in a schedule exercise routine. Overall health is important as a freelancer because we’re sedentary in our jobs. Wrist health also contributes to heart and mind health.

    Great article Carol. Thanks for sharing.

    Great advice, Carol. You may not know how bad your wrists are until it’s almost too late. I had no clue my wrists were bad, they didn’t hurt all that much. I worked out a lot

    Reply
    • Linda A Hamilton

      Evan, sorry, I thought Carol posted this and just realized my error. Great job with this article and the references. Thanks for your efforts.

  3. Sasha Kildare

    I had no idea strength training could help with wrist pain. I am committed to resistance/strength training 2X a week because it provides some different benefits to the brain than cardio does. It also boosts your metabolism by increasing muscle mass and is good for your bones.

    I was wondering why my wrists don’t bother me hardly at all, and now I know!

    Reply
  4. Chanoa

    Thai massage, self-massage with a lacrosse ball, sleeping on my back instead of on my sides, and wearing elbow braces while typing were the main drivers of healing my tendonitis after a very, very long time of trying all kinds of things.

    Whatever the wrist issue, prevention is the best method. I had an injury that caused it in one elbow and the exhaustion and misuse of the other while avoiding using that one created the issue in both arms.

    I think bad ergonomics is usually the cause for most people, and it’s worth every cent to transform your home office.

    Reply
  5. Panafrick

    Wah Evan! I experience wrist pains on my right hand due to continued use of the mouse. I’ve been wondering what to do relief the pains. Now I know.

    Thank you so much!

    Reply
    • Evan Jensen

      Glad you found this helpful. Consistently doing the exercises or strength training is really the key to preventing wrist pain tied to typing/computer use.

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