Tennis elbow (pain on the outside of the elbow) is a common occurrence with computer use. Since the condition is related to overworked muscles, reducing the daily strain on the muscles that attach to the elbow can help decrease pain and dysfunction. Here are some expert tips to help prevent or minimize those symptoms while working on a computer.
First, make sure your elbow is bent to about 90 degrees with the elbow by your side. This is a more advantageous position to use your biceps muscle in, which means less stress on the muscles involved with tennis elbow.
Second, ensure that you’re keeping your wrists relatively straight when typing or using the mouse. This position also keeps those muscles in a more neutral position so they can function properly. Think about it this way: how would you feel if you hiked your shoulder up to your ear and held it there for hours? You’d probably feel cramping and tightening in the overworked muscle. The same thing happens to your forearm muscles if you type with your wrists extended – prolonged contraction in a shortened or cramped position leads to overwork.
Third, make sure you’re using your mouse properly. You should avoid squeezing the mouse. Instead, use the lightest grip possible. Your arm should be free to move in order to move the mouse so that you’re not restricted to using only your wrist. You might consider choosing a mouse that fits your whole hand well (your fingers shouldn’t be flexed to fit the buttons) or try other options like using your other hand to mouse or one of the many alternatives to the standard mouse.
Finally, take regular breaks and frequent stretch pauses while you’re typing.
By: Steve Lisowe, PT, CAFS