Today, Adam Steer from Better’s Better and BodyweightCoach.com offers up some tips to prevent common overuse injuries associated with work in the digital age. Make sure you take advantage of his exclusive free offer for Probloggers at the end of this post.
The myth of the internet lifestyle depicts the easy life. Four hours of work per week will suffice to bring you the riches, entourage and lifestyle you desire. But the reality is quite different isn’t it? All the successful bloggers and internet entrepreneurs that I know spend hours every day bent over their keyboards – at least in the beginning.
If you’ve broken through, and are living the glamorous internet lifestyle, I’d like to congratulate you. But if you are still working on your ten-year overnight success story, you’re going to need to take care of your main asset – your fingertips.
Carpal tunnel syndrome, compressed joints, postural distortions and all sorts of other nasty conditions can creep up on the ProBlogger. Whatever we do repeatedly, we will adapt to, whether we like that adaptation or not. Just as the sprinter will adapt to training and he’ll become faster, so the ProBlogger will adapt to sitting in front of a computer.
I’ve written previously on several malaise of the Desk Jockey. But to put it bluntly, if you spend enough time in your desk chair, your body will eventually take on the shape of that chair. It’s not a conspiracy authored by your body. It thinks it’s doing you a favor. If you’re shaped like that chair, it should be easier for you to stay in it for long periods of time.
Your body is also going to adapt to all that tap, tap, tapping you do on your keyboard. Which is why it’s important to take care of your number one asset – your nimble fingertips. OK, so your number one asset is probably your head full of ideas, but the only way to get them out to your readers is through those fingertips, right?
Why do athletes stretch and partake in other recovery methods? Because their training results in positive performance benefits, but also causes over-specializations that need to be compensated for. So our sprinter might develop super-strong hamstrings, but also need to devote time to the tissue quality of those hammies through stretching and massage to make sure that his body does not become imbalanced.
Bad Stuff That Can Happen To The ProBlogger’s Fingers, Hands & Wrists
- Carpal tunnel syndrome – This is the most well known villain and the bane of many a Desk Jockey. It’s caused by the compression of nerves that pass through the carpal tunnel of the wrist and is thought to be brought on or exacerbated by working with a keyboard (eeks).
- Compressed joints – If you don’t move your joints through all their potential range of motion, they get compressed, forcing out the nourishing synovial fluid. Joints don’t have blood circulation, so they rely on that fluid to bring in nutrition and wash out toxins. Compressed joints will get dry and brittle over time.
- The “claw” – If the fingers stay curled in the “keyboard tapping” position for too long without compensation, eventually the tissues will adapt and it will be hard to fully extend the fingers.
- Writers Cramp – The fancy name for this is dystonia. Involuntary muscle spasms, twisting movements and tension in the fingers are a telltale sign.
Three Exercises To Maintain Your Nimble Fingers
Now that I have you thoroughly terrified –– machinations of total decrepitude roiling through your mind –– I want to reassure you that there is an easy fix. Through years of experimentation, a man named Scott Sonnon hammered out and codified a system of health, wellness and fitness that pre-incorporates recovery and compensation. It’s called the Circular Strength Training® system.
Below, you’ll find three exercises borrowed from the Intu-Flow Joint Health and Mobility ring of the CST Three Ring system. Regular practice of these three exercises will go a long way towards preventing the terrors mentioned above. But daily practice of the full Intu-Flow program will prime your entire idea generating pumps and have you churning out blog content like never before!
So without further ado, here are your three compensatory exercises. Do these daily to keep your fingertips tapping at the speed of a fiber optic pulse.
1. Elbow Circles
Top circles – hold the elbow relatively still out in front of you. Move the fist in an imaginary circle parallel to the floor above your elbow. Notice how the elbow pit rotates around from facing the ceiling to facing slightly inwards or outwards. This gives us the full range of motion in the joint, combining flexion, extension and rotation. The same principles apply for the bottom, inside and outside circles. Make sure you keep your shoulders packed throughout by pulling them down away from the ears.
2. Wrist Circles
Imagine holding the knuckles and the elbow fixed in space. Your goal is to move the wrist itself in space. Start by moving it up and down, moving to your full range of motion. You can hold your knuckles with your other hand to close the chain and make it easier to move just the wrist if you need to. Do the same moving the wrist side to side. Then join all 4 points together – top, side, bottom, side – in a fluid circle
3. Finger Rolls
Hold your hands in front of you, as if hovering over a keyboard, with the fingers extended. Beginning with the thumbs, start making circles one digit at a time. Do four or five circles in one direction with the thumb, then move on to the index fingers, making four or five circles in the same direction. Continue on down the line until you get to the pinkies. The last two fingers may be tough at first, until you develop the coordination to isolate the movement. Once you get to the end, change direction of the circles and work your way back from pinkies to thumbs.
Speed of implementation…
Get up from your keyboard and do these at your desk right now. Then drop a line or two into the comments section below. Tell us how you feel when you’re done. These are just the tip of the iceberg. A full session of Intu-Flow will leave you feeling loose as a goose, and –– done regularly –– can actually turn back the ravages of time and untie the knots made fast by your desk chair and keyboard.
Adam, co-author of Bodyweight Exercise Revolution, is offering a free follow-along joint mobility session to ProBlogger readers. Visit BodyweightCoach.com to access your video download. You can also grab a free copy of the highly acclaimed Bodyweight FUN-damentals workout ebook for free. Adam has been blogging for quite some time at BettersBetter.com where he debunks the mainstream fitness myths and offers improved health, vitality and fitness, one better decision at a time.