Wednesday, September 4, 2013

A Word On Wrists.



A Word on Wrists

My whole life I can honestly say has been spent devoid of any merit of muscle. To be frank, despite any efforts to the contrary I quite simply have never been known for my physical prowess. In fact, it can easily be attested by any number of those who have ever known me that even when I was engaged in sports or other activities of my youth did I ever distinguish myself. Basically the best I can ever claim is a tireless tenacity, appreciative attempt and perhaps a passable skill.

Now, it can also be said that I didn’t shirk from sports either. Growing up I spent my summers playing baseball, while switching to basketball and football during the school year. Over time I slowly began to step back and did take up bowling instead. I was even enrolled in gymnastics and karate for a time. But alas, as I grew older I found less and less pleasure in such things.

Perhaps it could be argued that my lack of innate ability colored my view about such activities, or it could possibly be said that my shifting focus towards my academic pursuits pulled me away. Either explanation is equally within reason I suppose. However neither is really the point of the matter currently.

What is at issue is something else entirely, a matter some people might not even think about much. Actually, I can regretfully admit it is something I recall in passing having heard about briefly but was rather ignorant of.  You might laugh but it is your wrists oddly enough.

Now, it is one of the first things some people say when they hear that you are suffering with a problem affecting your wrists that you simply work at your computer too much. Things like Carpal Tunnel and the like get mentioned and typically it is generally assumed you must have caused your current condition somehow.

But, you see, here is my problem with that whole train of thought. It isn’t simply a concern for those of the computer-oriented persuasion. Nor is Carpal Tunnel and other such medical misfortunes something that is only suffered by those crafting code or skilled secretaries. As an example I can offer my own father; a man who until recently virtually never even used a computer or the like. However he has worked for years in the labor industry; using his hands and body if you care to be blunt, on a daily basis. And he has had somewhere around 3-4 or more surgeries on his wrist alone.

Why is this even something worth talking about you might be wondering, and I don’t blame you if you’ve asked yourself that very question. For me it has become a rather recent topic for contemplation. You see, in the last week or so I have found myself dealing with some trouble with my right wrist and it has become something that has worried me. And with such consideration it has inevitably lead to me reviewing a series of events that I had always shrugged off.

I write on a daily basis, or at least try to anyways. Currently it has been centered on me trying to edit and refine my latest little story; Gauntlet. Now, most of my tinkering with the tale has just been some rewording here and there to be fair. But I have done some rewriting where needed too. However, I have also been wearing an old wrist support and trying to limit how much I make use of my right hand to be cautious.

Writing though isn’t the only thing I do. I also do the dishes, work on the laundry, and occasionally try to fix something electronic, electrical or any number of other things around the house when I am able to. In short, I don’t just set and type away for long hours on end. And even though I don’t make use of a traditional computer desk ( my pc setup consists of a monitor on a end table beside my recliner with the tower tucked neatly beside it in my living room) I do consciously make it a point to watch how I hold my wrists when typing etc.

But I cannot disregard the fact that for a long time when I was working and putting myself through college that I did in fact a lot of work with my hands. And before that I had hobbies that also included a lot of use of my hands as well. I have never been the hulking handyman who strains his back heaving about loads. But in contrast I have always been the little guy who crawls into, around or under something and spends long stretches working on things with tool in hand.

I think what I may be rambling my way towards is the point that all this type of work over time may have had a strain on my body that I never really noticed before. When a sharp pain might spring up my forearm like a sudden shock I merely ruled it our as a result of working with my arms above me for too long. Or when I had to shake my hand and wrist out to remove a tingling tidal wave it was just from my hand getting tired from gripping my tools.

Whatever the reason or self-sold explanation I never stopped to consider the long term effects. Now some may argue that a family predisposition might be involved that has my own anatomy at fault, and that very well could be. I can’t rule that out at all, but one thing I think anyone can take from this is not to ignore your body in any way. It doesn’t matter how big or how buff you may be, or aren’t; pay attention to what you are doing and how you are doing it. If you’re picking something up without lifting with you legs because you’re stubborn enough to think you can just power through it you may be hurting yourself. And if you’re just doing something as seemingly innocent as playing a video game each day for a bit while your wrist lazily hangs askew from its grip on your mouse you might be dooming yourself to discomfort.

I’m no expert on the matter, far from it. I used to do the little stretches and things before my shift at work or when warming up before a practice. I recall vaguely hearing some bits and pieces mentioned here and there about the dangers of Carpal Tunnel, Tendonitis and other things but was basically ignorant. I mean I knew what not to do and that it was a problem but as far as symptoms to watch out for or what it really was – not so much.

And right now I haven’t seen my doc yet so I can’t even say that it or anything of the sort is even my problem. I could have strained/pulled something putting a stack of dishes up or any number of things. But now I am trying to educate myself better and take a serious look at such health concerns even if they seem trivial. Because later down the road they could become worse, and if treated early perhaps prevented.

So, take care of your hands and wrists folks. You use them to interact with your surroundings far more than you realize. Try not to take them for granted.