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Hand care for the geeks

Extended gaming and texting can cause damage to your hands. Here’s how to take care of your precious trigger-fingers and gamer-wrists in between heated matches and online arguments

Ah, the power of the hand – bringing joy to gamers, serial texters and other forever alone folks all over the world. Brandishing your trigger fingers all over the keyboard or killing it in that online debate has its own pleasure. But unfortunately, as they say, where there is pleasure, there is pain (pardon the cliche!) and in this case, the brunt of that pain is felt by your poor hands. Gamers, texters and geeks all over the world, or rather their physicians will tell you that health problems pertaining to the hand are very common among people who have to spend an extensive amount of time at the keyboard. So with this section, we start off by looking at some health tips that every keyboard ninja should keep in mind, be it on the PC or on the smartphone.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Anatomy of the infamous Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Main culprits

The intense pain you feel in the middle of an even more intense gaming session could be mainly because of two culprits – Carpal tunnel syndrome or tendonitis. While it’s hard to tell one from the other by their symptoms (which are tingling, numbing, swelling, wrist pain) their root causes are distinct. Prolonged flexing of fingers – be it through gaming or typing on the PC or texting on smartphones repeatedly for extended periods – causes carpal tunnel in which the medial nerve in your wrist is compressed, or even damaged. Whereas, in tendonitis, your tendon is inflamed. A common form of tendonitis, that you might have heard about, is tennis elbow.

How does this happen? To understand this, just flex your bicep or your thigh and hold it like that for more than 10 seconds. Hurts? That’s what you’re doing to your fingers and wrist during extended gaming and texting sessions. Can we fix this? You bet we can.

Pain in the… neck
If texting on the smartphone is your choice of poison, then there is another modern day ailment you should know about – Text neck. Referring to the neck pain caused by looking down at your smartphone for too frequently and too long. It can even lead to arthritis in the neck.

Check out these quick exercises and tips that you can adopt while taking  a break from whichever technology has enslaved you:

  • Ball and flex: Make a fist and then extend your fingers. Repeat quite a few times till they feel worked out.
  • Wrist stretches: Stretch out your hands like you’re stopping traffic, then grab the fingers on the opposite hand and pull backwards till it feels stretched – hold this for 30 seconds.
  • Massage fingers and wrist: Quite self-explanatory.
  • Thumb taps: Tap each finger on each hand to the thumb five times. Repeat this in three sets. Pro tip – hum your favourite song while you do this, it helps maintain the rhythm.
  • Thumb twister: With your elbow against your ribs, make your palm face upwards and with the other hand, grab the thumb in the first hand and tug it towards the second hand. Don’t apply too much force.
  • Joint Circles: Simply rotate your wrist your wrist in both directions – 10 circles each direction per wrist.
  • Thumb Stretches and massages: Just tug on it once in awhile and massage the muscles around the thumb web.
  • Change the texting finger: This way, you’ll have keyboard ninja skills on even more fingers.
  • Talk to people in real life: Seriously, do try this if none of the above exercises help you.

This article was first published in the June 2017 issue of Digit magazine. To read Digit’s articles first, subscribe here or download the Digit app for Android and iOS. You could also buy Digit’s previous issues here.

Arnab Mukherjee

Arnab Mukherjee

A former tech-support desk jockey, you can find this individual delving deep into all things tech, fiction and food. Calling his sense of humour merely terrible would be a much better joke than what he usually makes.