In a long and very entertaining discussion with a good friend last night we touched briefly on the subject of tendon injuries, particularly related to typing.
Tendonitis, also known as repetitive strain injury is a common problem facing anyone who plays an instrument or does anything intricate with their hands for a prolonged period. In fact anyone who repeats a given movement for an extended period risks tendon problems and repetitive strain injury.
Tendons are like small elastic bands that attach the muscle to the bone. They are less elastic than muscle and do not receive as much in the way of blood flow. As such, when they become damaged it tends to take a long time to heal completely, and in some cases can become permanently weakened.
The key word here is “strain”. Consistent excessive load applied to a tendon will cause it to tear (imagine a rubber band stretched beyond its limit). These micro tears cause inflammation in the tendon. This inflammation is painful and causes amongst other things, pins and needles as the nerves around the tendon are compressed. Left unattended, or worse under continued strain, the tendon will eventually snap and the attached muscle will become all but useless.
How do we avoid such injuries?
Simple. Slow down. Use small movements.
Tension causes tightness in the muscular system. Typing too fast for your skill level will cause tension as the brain compensates for lack of control by exerting pressure on the muscles. This ruptures the tendon and tendonitis occurs.
Slow down, close your eyes and practice using the smallest, most delicate stroke you can whilst still typing. Breathe. Pay attention to the sensations in your hand. Slowly repeat a sequence again and again until the muscles relax. Small movements are controlled. Small movements are relaxed. Rinse and repeat.
By doing this you are paying attention to how your hands move. Your mind already knows how to type. You just aren’t listening.
Now stop reading and go do it...