- A Cautionary Tale
First, and most importantly: if you have pain in your wrists from typing right now, that is caused by damage happening right now, and you should seek medical advice as soon as possible.
I write computer code for a living. What this means is that if I ruin my wrists, I should change my vocation. The same goes for anyone else who uses their hands for a living.
There is no simple fix and there is no magic cure. Damage is more or less permanent. People can have operations. There are various options which all involve surgery on the wrist tendons.
The major contributing factors to RSI:
Ideal posture when typing:
- Back straight up - no slouching.
- Elbows against the side of your body.
- Forearms a little under horizontal.
- Hands hovering over the keyboard, which should be close to the edge of the desk facing you.
- Top of monitor roughly at eye level.
- Anything aerobic that uses your arms, e.g. rowing.
- Anything that puts weight on arm & wrist muscles helps, but start small and work up: be sensible.1
- Take it REAL easy if you already have trouble, or you will cause more damage than you prevent.
So how does this list make for a cautionary tale? Guess what: There was a time when I scored 4 out of 4. My special prize: a week of pain, a trip to the hospital, two weeks away from The Computer, and the prospect (now diminished, thankfully) of having to give up coding at age 23.
I consider myself lucky: I got off light. I am careful about how I type. If I hadn't given the finger to 3 important deadlines, I wouldn't be typing this. Actually I would, because it's important, but it would be painful. If I'd ignored the signs I would have ruined my livelihood.
I know artists who cry when they draw. To repeat: if you have pain in your wrists now, that is damage happening now, and you ignore it at your peril.
Take it seriously.
Further reading & sources:
1: If you want to build up your arms wrists in an interesting and challenging way, try indoor climbing. It's supposed to be all about leg-work, and that's true to an extent, but there's also a degree of upper-body, finger & wrist strength involved. Plus, you get an incredible feeling when you beat a difficult climb.
One computer-specific thing I would add: the mouse is often much worse for your wrists than the equivalent typing work. Learn shortcut keys for anything you do that requires mouse action. If you don't play games too much, get a trackball instead: Logitech Trackmans are good, the Marble FX is best but they've stopped selling them.