Healthy Computing: Rediscover Fine Control

Optimize your performance and prevent computer-related injuries with
Healthy Computing Email Tips. Each week we provide hints to help you stay
healthier while working.

Increasing work demands, coupled with personal desire to do a good job,
sometimes causes us to work when we are tense and tired. Working under
stress with rapid, repetitive, sustained hand movements (e.g., keyboarding
and mousing), especially without taking episodic breaks, may contribute to
loss of motor control and degradation of the somatosensory organization of
the hand. This loss and degradation appears to be associated with
discomfort.* Reduce discomfort and clumsy actions when you REDISCOVER FINE


Developing fine motor control is much easier when it is done in the spirit
of play and discovery versus correct performance. Explore the following
while you continue to breathe and smile:

Increase sensory discrimination with the following exercises:

  • Feel the object
    Collect small different objects such as magnetic letter, tiny toys.
    Then with your eyes closed begin to identify them with your fingers.
    Keep decreasing the differences between the objects. Identify them by
    touching them or pressing them against your fingers. If you find it
    difficult to identify objects, begin with only 2 items; have more if you
    find it easy.

  • Identify the material
    Have numerous different swatches of cloth, and then use tactile
    discrimination to identify them more and more rapidly.

Increase freedom of movement when you keep your neck and shoulders relaxed
and continue to breathe. Explore the following exercises:**

  • Foot-hand coordination
    Sit on your chair and start rotating your right foot clockwise while
    simultaneously using your right hand to draw a big number 6 in the air
    beginning at the top of the number (top to bottom and then up again to
    close the loop).

    Repeat this same exercise with your left foot and left hand.

  • Finger gym
    Sit comfortably in your chair and breathe calmly. Now, touch your right
    thumb to your right little finger tip then, touch your ring finger then,
    middle finger then, index finger then, back to the little finger.
    Continue doing this a few times, gently moving your thumb from fingertip
    to fingertip. Relax your right hand.

    Next, tough your left thumb to your left index fingertip then, middle
    finger then, ring finger then, little finger then, back to the index
    finger. Continue doing this a few times, gently moving your thumb from
    fingertip to fingertip.

    Now do both the right and left hand simultaneously while keeping your
    neck and shoulders relaxed and maintaining slow breathing.

Develop your own new novelty movement and discrimination games. The more
you play and explore the more somatic freedom develops.

*Byl, N.N., Nagajaran, S. & McKenzie, A.L. (2003). Effect of sensory
discrimination training on structure and function in patients with focal
hand dystonia: a case series.
Arch Phys Med Rehabil, 84(10): 1505-14.

**We thank Monika Fuhs for suggesting the freedom of movement exercises.

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Written by Erik Peper PhD

Explore Wellness in 2021