Author Topic: I'm running out of ideas, what can I do to help my wrists  (Read 3783 times)

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Offline Springfox

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I'm running out of ideas, what can I do to help my wrists
« on: Mon, 23 June 2014, 04:39:06 »
I'll get right to it.

I'm only 20 and I am already getting really bad aches in my wrists, especially my right (mouse) hand and I get a terrible paid when I use the left shift key.

I've been programming and the like since I was 11 and fear I have abused my wrists already.

Now, it's no where near debilitating, but I'd like to be nipping this in the bud as soon as possible, I work from home a lot as a software developer and consultant and would like to get this sorted so I can carry on working on full tilt.

Do you have any suggestions for keyboards and mouse set ups for this kind of problem? For the last 2-3 years I've had a plethora of different mechanical keyboards, right now I'm on my Filco Majestouch 2, and I feel like I need something that is split so I don't have that point parallel wrist thing going on, I've recently switched my mouse hand over to the left so that's not so much of a problem any more.

Also, I have tried a kinesis advantage, but stupidly I don't think I gave it enough time, my patients ran out after about a week of use as it was really slowing me down in my job, but I would be willing to give it another go if nothing else comes up.

Any suggestions or advise are appreciated, thank you.


Offline kurplop

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Re: I'm running out of ideas, what can I do to help my wrists
« Reply #1 on: Mon, 23 June 2014, 06:30:59 »
The good news is that the problem can often be solved with a more appropriate positioning of your hands. The bad news is that the proper technique for you isn't always apparent instantly. If you're already in pain it may take several days or weeks to know if you hit on the right solution.

Proper positioning for you may involve a mouse or trackball that reduces pronation and a different keyboard. Unfortunately, there's no one product that works best for everybody. you will probably have to experiment some.

There are three major wrist positions that can cause problems; pronation, ulnar deviation and extension. It might help to determine which of these are the culprits and then proceed from there. It is possible that you spend too much time at the keyboard also. You may have to limit your time and try stretching exercises every 20 minutes or so.

I found that the the right keyboard/mouse combination combined with an adjustable tray did wonders for me. I wish you success in finding a solution.


Offline jacobolus

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Re: I'm running out of ideas, what can I do to help my wrists
« Reply #2 on: Mon, 23 June 2014, 06:35:00 »
First, on whatever keyboard you’re using, you can improve your posture and typing technique to make a big improvement:

1. Make sure your wrists and palms are “floating” above the keyboard, not resting on anything.
2. Try to get your chair/desk set up so that your back is straight, with your head looking straight ahead at the display, your elbows angled about 90°, and your wrists in as neutral position as you can get them. You may need a lower desk, a higher chair, an under-desk keyboard try, a higher display stand, or some combination of those.
3. Even on a standard keyboard, you want your hands coming in at an angle: you want to minimize any angle in your wrists.
4. Try to reduce the switches between mouse and keyboard if you can: moving a hand back and forth to the mouse repeatedly can be uncomfortable. If you use the mouse heavily, I think there are technique differences which can make an improvement, or switching to a trackball or trackpad might help.
5. Take breaks, switch positions, etc. Don’t sit in the same position for 5 hours at a time, but try to get up and stretch fairly frequently. Standing desks and various ergonomic chairs can help a lot with the discomfort of sitting.
6. Other exercise (like playing sports, or rock climbing, or swimming, or even just walking enough every day) can make a big difference.
7. For that matter, try not to spend too many hours typing on a computer, period. Go play outside, instead. :-)

But yeah, getting a keyboard with column stagger, some extra separation, tenting, and angle between the hands can make a big difference to wrist comfort.

If something is hurting, definitely take it seriously (it sounds like you’re on the right track, at least admitting there’s a problem), and don’t just try to tough it out: RSI is no joke, and dealing with it properly now is much better than piling on injury.
« Last Edit: Mon, 23 June 2014, 06:41:40 by jacobolus »

Offline Findecanor

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Re: I'm running out of ideas, what can I do to help my wrists
« Reply #3 on: Mon, 23 June 2014, 06:55:10 »
You could try a vertical mouse: The WowPen series, Evoluent, Anker and others. I use a WowPen Joy, but the buttons were too hard so I swapped the switches with ones from an old mouse. The Evoluent feels quite weird at first and is only suitable for office work because it tries to snap to the vertical and horizontal axis. There are also left-handed Evoluents.
There are several older threads and reviews of vertical mice on the forum.

I don't know of any mechanical keyboard that is split and tented and available now except the Kinesis, Maltron and ErgoDox -- all of them with columnar layouts. There is the ErgoDuck, but it was a limited-edition DIY keyboard.
You could try a GoldTouch - they are light rubber dome, but old used keyboards could have stiff domes.
The Ultimate Hacking Keyboard and the Matias ErgoPro are supposed to be released later this year.
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Offline osi

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Re: I'm running out of ideas, what can I do to help my wrists
« Reply #4 on: Mon, 23 June 2014, 07:46:55 »
I've been pain free in my wrists until this year. I got in a stretch where I would work a lot from home, from a laptop. The way I sat in my bed and the angle that my wrists were at absolutely killed me after a while. I'd have to shake my wrists out, move them around circularly trying to freshen it back up. Eventually I got what I needed done and have since stopped working so vigorously from home in that manner.

Also recently after placing my board and mouse on a glass surface, I began to feel discomfort here as well. I've added a palm wrest for the board which has helped immensely--the mouse I'm still adjusting to.

In both cases, as others have said, my pain could be attributed to my posture. I completely understand this concept and try and keep as best posture I can. Having said that, working long hours/nights eventually will lead to lazy posture just because we are all human. Now when I find I'm slacking on my posture it is time to take a mandatory break-- for your body, for your sanity. Try and prevent as much as you can now because if you are anything like me, you'll be in front of a keyboard for years to come.
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Online hoggy

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Re: I'm running out of ideas, what can I do to help my wrists
« Reply #5 on: Mon, 23 June 2014, 08:13:20 »
Have you seen your doctor? 

The kinesis advantage worked for me, but everyone is different.  I'd say give a couple of weeks at absolute minimum, preferably more.  There's plenty of product ideas above, if you can afford it, I'd recommend getting several overlapping products, as it takes hands-on experience to tell if it's any good to you, and regular change (managed properly) can help longer term.  A keyboard tray might be a good place to start...

Since you're a software developer, could you use your skills to reduce the amount of typing/time it takes to get stuff done?

How about swapping your mouse to the left - you could do that now.

Don't worry about your performance dropping for a bit (because it will) - the worse case scenario is that you can't work for a good while, so take a temporary performance drop on the chin. 

How are your stress levels?

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Offline Lanx

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Re: I'm running out of ideas, what can I do to help my wrists
« Reply #6 on: Mon, 23 June 2014, 08:29:39 »
go back to the kinesis, literally lock away EVERY keyboard you have and use the kinesis 24/7, this forces you to learn.

then map a shift key to the thumb cluster (i use delete)

or get a foot pedal for shift, you drive right? pretty non standard.

get new mice asap, goto staples bestbuy (with some purex) and try out all the mice out, if you can buy a few you think will be ergonomical for you.

Online prdlm2009

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Re: I'm running out of ideas, what can I do to help my wrists
« Reply #7 on: Mon, 23 June 2014, 08:33:55 »
I started to develop RSI when I was 24, so much that my hands would hurt when I went to sleep each night and the pain would only be resolved with a long weekend or vacation.

I highly recommend trying an ergonomic mouse for your mouse hand, and learning to mouse with both hands.  In my case, mice were the greater cause for hand and finger pain, while the keyboard was more a source of wrist pain.  Although the keyboard layout can affect how much excess movement that your fingers do with QWERTY compared to using a more refined layout like Dvorak, Colemak, or Maltron.

As other have mentioned, proper body positioning has huge benefits as well.

My personal favorites for ergonomic mice are the Rollermouse and the Mousetrapper.  These switch the bulk of mouse movements from your clenched hand and fingers to your ever useful and strong thumbs.  Ergonomic equipment can be expensive, but it is much lower than the accumulated health care costs down the road.

http://ergo.contour-design.com/

http://www.thehumansolution.com/mouse-trapper-advanced-mouse.html
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Offline EvillePanda

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Re: I'm running out of ideas, what can I do to help my wrists
« Reply #8 on: Mon, 23 June 2014, 09:41:00 »
I'm going to second Hoggy.  See a doctor.  Now.  Buy some Craft gloves.  They compress the joints to keep them from twisting too much.  I'm an avid knitter and I use them when my hand cramps get too bad.  They work really well for keyboarding pain as well.  At one point, I was typing close to 10,000 words a day and used them to keep my hands functional.

http://www.walmart.com/ip/Creative-Comfort-Crafter-s-Comfort-Glove/17338169?action=product_interest&action_type=image&placement_id=irs_top&strategy=PWVUB&visitor_id=80584214344&category=0%3A2637%3A667479%3A1021743&client_guid=ac46b111-2da2-433a-a882-b118d3222f40&config_id=2&parent_item_id=17338199&guid=b06e5e75-3157-4ef3-99fa-90a4832fe3e5&bucket_id=irsbucket017&findingMethod=p13n

Also, stretch those joints!  Those muscles need stretching just as much as any other.  Runners stretch.  Weight lifters stretch.  You should too.  Those are important muscles.  These stretches are for knitters as well, but really move all the pertinent parts.

http://knitfreedom.com/being-a-knitter/top-5-stretches-for-knitting-pain-relief

Keep in mind, I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on television.  Talk to a professional.  Especially if the above makes the pain worse.

I have tiny hands, so I use a Typematrix keyboard.  My fingers don't have to reach as much.  I also use a Logitech wireless trackball mouse with the trackball on the thumb.  I've also had quite a bit of luck with the penguin mouse.  Test out a few, see what's comfortable.  Don't be afraid to look at keyboard trays and new chairs.  Also, I recommend stepping away from your work every 45 minutes.  Do the stretches, walk around, get some water, whatever.  Give your bones a break.  Besides, studies have shown workers are more productive with several short breaks throughout the day over working for a solid 4-8 hours.

I hope you can find some relief.  Let us know how it goes.
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Online tp4tissue

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Re: I'm running out of ideas, what can I do to help my wrists
« Reply #9 on: Mon, 23 June 2014, 13:20:53 »
the issue is you're rotating your palm to  face down against the table..


try to keep your wrist more upright, even if this means actions will be a bit harder to reach..

hold the mouse more sideways.. and also make your keystrikes while your wrist is closer to it's natural angle..

OR ...

get a tent-able keyboard like the ergodox... or any split keyboard really.. just drill some holes and put legs that tent them.

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Re: I'm running out of ideas, what can I do to help my wrists
« Reply #10 on: Mon, 23 June 2014, 13:29:55 »
You need to get one of these:



The rubber dome key switches will be of immense help to your wrists.


Offline jacobolus

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Re: I'm running out of ideas, what can I do to help my wrists
« Reply #11 on: Mon, 23 June 2014, 13:56:30 »
You need to get one of these:

Show Image


The rubber dome key switches will be of immense help to your wrists.
Please don’t troll people when they’re asking questions about their health. It’s not a joke.

Note: the shape of these keyboards is better than a standard keyboard for wrist strain (though it would be even better with more separation, more tenting, more angle, and a more sensible key layout), but the switches are only good for cost reduction for the manufacturer, and can be actively harmful because they encourage the typist to press the keys *much* harder than necessary to actuate the switch (to avoid errors, because actuation is at the bottom), jamming fingers into the switch bottom and putting quite a bit of stress on joints.
« Last Edit: Mon, 23 June 2014, 14:03:09 by jacobolus »

Offline ferociousfingerings

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Re: I'm running out of ideas, what can I do to help my wrists
« Reply #12 on: Mon, 23 June 2014, 15:08:47 »
Once upon a time, Bruce Lee injured his back, and literally had to spend the next 6 months of his life on his back. No kung fu, no working out, no walking around...

You may have to simply stop, for long enough for your body to repair itself. If you have RSI, the LAST thing you want to do is continue repeating the movements that caused the injury. My personal recommendation would be to attempt to identify the offending action and eliminate it entirely, for at least several months.

You might need to reconfigure your entire setup, not just get a fancy keyboard or reposition your peripherals.

I know this might sound outlandish, but... Voice Commands don't require typing. You could attempt to automate and "voice-bind" as many of your repetitive tasks as possible. You could even have your voice commands set up as "push to talk," and then bind that talk button to a foot switch. Who knows, you might even get faster that way.

I also agree with seeking professional medical evaluation for anything you think is actually important.
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Offline SonOfSonOfSpock

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Re: I'm running out of ideas, what can I do to help my wrists
« Reply #13 on: Mon, 23 June 2014, 15:55:48 »
Do you only use the left shift or do you use both left and right shift keys? If you only use the left one (also applies to other keys like ctrl, alt, etc.) then evening out the load by using both shifts can help. Also, if you type in all caps, hitting the caps lock key for those instead of holding down shift can help. Or don't use all caps.

Offline davkol

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Re: I'm running out of ideas, what can I do to help my wrists
« Reply #14 on: Mon, 23 June 2014, 16:15:51 »
Bad Advices from Programers about Typing & Keyboard (RSI) by Xah Lee

That being said^Wlinked, @ferociousfingerings makes a good point, but I'd go even deeper. Consider your life style. What would you do if you couldn't type (or use computers) at all? What do you want to do in 20, 30, 40, 50 years? And so on. Are you familiar with your mind and your physical form? (...)
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Offline Lanx

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Re: I'm running out of ideas, what can I do to help my wrists
« Reply #15 on: Mon, 23 June 2014, 17:40:28 »
Once upon a time, Bruce Lee injured his back, and literally had to spend the next 6 months of his life on his back. No kung fu, no working out, no walking around...

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Re: I'm running out of ideas, what can I do to help my wrists
« Reply #16 on: Mon, 23 June 2014, 18:06:54 »
I got it...   higher someone to type for you....

haha. joke aside.

biggest issue is tenting..

Online GSimon

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Re: I'm running out of ideas, what can I do to help my wrists
« Reply #17 on: Mon, 23 June 2014, 23:42:05 »
I have similar issues to OP, particularly in my right hand from using the mouse.

I just bought this evoluent mouse:



This was this appropriate size for my hand according to their chart (as opposed to the larger model)

I just got it today so I can't vouch for it just yet. However, I do notice a difference and so far I'm unwilling to return to using my other mouse: http://gamingshogun.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/logitech_g600_mmo_gaming_mouse-2.jpeg

As of right now I would definitely recommend this, it feels more natural and when I was having sharp wrist pains before I would actually use my mouse this way to mitigate the pain, which looked odd and wasn't as productive.

Other suggestions would be to increase mouse speed/sensitivity so there is less movement. Or using a TKL keyboard without the numpad (or buying a numpad separately).

This article has some good points and suggestions also: http://blog.evanweaver.com/2012/09/05/a-programmers-guide-to-healing-rsi/
« Last Edit: Mon, 23 June 2014, 23:52:08 by GSimon »

Offline SonOfSonOfSpock

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Re: I'm running out of ideas, what can I do to help my wrists
« Reply #18 on: Tue, 24 June 2014, 00:04:17 »
Bad Advices from Programers about Typing & Keyboard (RSI) by Xah Lee

That's an interesting link. Hits home as far as having to look at what you're doing and not just take blind advice.

@GSimon: maybe in a couple weeks let us know how the Evoluent works for you. I've used plenty of mice for a couple days to a couple weeks before realizing they don't work for me. It'd be nice to hear back to see if it works long term.

Offline omnigeek

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Re: I'm running out of ideas, what can I do to help my wrists
« Reply #19 on: Tue, 24 June 2014, 00:21:26 »
I would second what kurplop and jacobolus wrote:

1. For typing, don't lay your wrists flat in front of the keyboard -- hold them up so that you have a natural curvature in your fingers when you type.  This can make your upper arms sore, so what I usually do is rest one or both elbows on the chair arms -- this makes it easier to hold my wrists up.  A palm rest might help, but won't get you all the way there -- you'll have to do some work with your arms / shoulders (unless maybe you can find a really thick palm rest?)

2. Change positions often so that you don't get sore in any one position.  Stretch your hands, wrists and arms periodically.  It just takes a few seconds and won't interrupt your work.  After a while you'll be doing it unconsciously.

3. For the mouse, hold it very loosely, and don't rest your hand right on it -- again, hold your hand and wrist up a little so as to keep the natural curvature to your fingers.  It's hard not to hold the mouse too tightly, especially when making small, precise movements, but with practice you'll get it.  Periodic resting, stretching and/or shaking your hand around can help relax your hand after too much mousing also.

I started programming at about age 13, and by my early 20s I was going through this problem (with the keyboard only -- we didn't have mice back then ;D ) -- the backs of my hands would get a lot of pain while I typed and afterward.  I realized that I was slouching in my chair, keeping my wrists low and I also had the back of my keyboard raised, all of which contributed to a bad posture for my hands.  I forced myself to develop the habit of keeping my wrists raised and my fingers curved (if you've ever had piano lessons you'll know this posture).  After some time the problem cleared up, and I've never had a problem since (and if you didn't already guess... that was a BUNCH of years ago!)

All that time I've been typing on clacky keyboards (mostly Northgates) and I'd never use anything else.  This site has information and recommendations on about a bazillion great keyboards, so don't give up until you find one that's comfortable for you.

Good luck!
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Offline Proword

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Re: I'm running out of ideas, what can I do to help my wrists
« Reply #20 on: Tue, 24 June 2014, 03:03:25 »
My suggestion would be go to a Maltron, and take the time to learn the Malt layout.   This keyboard is specifically designed from the first principles to address such problems as yours.

These two videos show how much difference there is between Malt and QWERTY, using the Maltron form.

Suggest you turn the sound off and just watch how far the hands move (or do not) on each layout.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pYJtF1I3PRs

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o4H931A3BDE

The Maltron is designed with a palm rest at the base of the keyboard, but it is difficult to use it with the QWERTY layout, due to the necessity to move the hands so far. 

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Online prdlm2009

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Re: I'm running out of ideas, what can I do to help my wrists
« Reply #21 on: Tue, 24 June 2014, 09:16:15 »
You need to get one of these:

Show Image


The rubber dome key switches will be of immense help to your wrists.

This isn't the place to troll.
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Re: I'm running out of ideas, what can I do to help my wrists
« Reply #22 on: Tue, 24 June 2014, 11:09:05 »
Bad Advices from Programers about Typing & Keyboard (RSI) by Xah Lee

That's an interesting link. Hits home as far as having to look at what you're doing and not just take blind advice.

@GSimon: maybe in a couple weeks let us know how the Evoluent works for you. I've used plenty of mice for a couple days to a couple weeks before realizing they don't work for me. It'd be nice to hear back to see if it works long term.

I notice also alot of people don't take rests between typing..

So for example... lets say you type.. so you need to turn your wrist to be flat on the keyboard..

BUT... when you stop typing... you should turn them back upright...   Many people don't do this..

They HOLD the flat position...   


I blame this on poor typing class instructions or no even typing class....


I remember my typing class in school was run by this female who's totally a N00b...  she can touch type (slowly by GH standards)   and that was pretty much her only qualification...



I played starcraft throughout the class.. and when she wasn't looking.. I went on her Pc and changed the xml file for completion on the typing program.. ;D


I don't feel bad, because I was already typing ~90 at this point, which was faster than her.. AND with much better technique.
« Last Edit: Tue, 24 June 2014, 11:12:31 by tp4tissue »

Offline BunnyLake

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Re: I'm running out of ideas, what can I do to help my wrists
« Reply #23 on: Tue, 24 June 2014, 11:18:00 »
i dont have anything to add to this conversation, other than i think this thread is a great example of how this forum can operate, great posts all round
and when everyone says it can't be done......

Offline Grim Fandango

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Re: I'm running out of ideas, what can I do to help my wrists
« Reply #24 on: Tue, 24 June 2014, 11:18:06 »
Google : Wrist support.

If it gets serious enough that is what I would use.



My girlfriend is hyperflexible and curls her wrists in odd ways when sleeping which is why she uses something similar (the more expensive option). She is also a dentist, so it is important that she keeps her wrists/hands free of pain. It works for her. She wears them a lot around the house. Also when using the computer.
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Online tp4tissue

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Re: I'm running out of ideas, what can I do to help my wrists
« Reply #25 on: Tue, 24 June 2014, 13:43:50 »
Google : Wrist support.

If it gets serious enough that is what I would use.

Show Image


My girlfriend is hyperflexible and curls her wrists in odd ways when sleeping which is why she uses something similar (the more expensive option). She is also a dentist, so it is important that she keeps her wrists/hands free of pain. It works for her. She wears them a lot around the house. Also when using the computer.

Hmmmmmm....   is this  -support-  or a -restraint-  , such that it keeps the wearer from bad habits of contortion..

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Offline EvillePanda

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Re: I'm running out of ideas, what can I do to help my wrists
« Reply #27 on: Tue, 24 June 2014, 14:21:58 »
Google : Wrist support.

If it gets serious enough that is what I would use.

Show Image


My girlfriend is hyperflexible and curls her wrists in odd ways when sleeping which is why she uses something similar (the more expensive option). She is also a dentist, so it is important that she keeps her wrists/hands free of pain. It works for her. She wears them a lot around the house. Also when using the computer.

Both.  I use something a little less extreme when my wrists start to hurt and it helps quite a bit.

Hmmmmmm....   is this  -support-  or a -restraint-  , such that it keeps the wearer from bad habits of contortion..
Show Image

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Online GSimon

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Re: I'm running out of ideas, what can I do to help my wrists
« Reply #28 on: Tue, 24 June 2014, 16:02:02 »
Hmmmmmm....   is this  -support-  or a -restraint-  , such that it keeps the wearer from bad habits of contortion..
Show Image


It's restraint with minimal support, so more of a preventative measure to avoid bad habits than something used to actually improve wrist/forearm strength.

Online GSimon

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Re: I'm running out of ideas, what can I do to help my wrists
« Reply #29 on: Tue, 24 June 2014, 16:06:37 »
ErgoRest...

Show Image


http://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=52614.msg1228059#msg1228059

Here's a version that mechanicalkeyboards is selling:

http://mechanicalkeyboards.com/shop/index.php?l=product_detail&p=279



The one you linked looks more refined/better quality but I believe this could be more benefitial.