Writing is a frequent activity for students of all ages, from elementary students who often practice correct handwriting, to high-school seniors who frequently take notes or write essays. Because writing comprises such a large part of students’ activities, ergonomic writing instruments are an essential back-to-school item. When combined with proper writing posture, these tools not only increase comfort, but they also decrease the muscle strain that can lead to repetitive stress injuries (RSI).
Correct Writing Posture
Fundamental to protecting wrists and hands from RSI, is maintaining proper posture during writing. Traditional classroom writing instruction often ignores students’ grip and finger position, while placing great emphasis on the quality of students’ handwritten output. Thus students may learn maladaptive writing posture that can result in muscle fatigue or injury.To combat this risk, students can learn and implement the following postures:
- Relax the shoulders and neck, and sit up straight. Students who hunch down over their papers often experience neck, back, and shoulder pain.
- Keep the elbow open at more than 90 degrees. To accommodate this position, students who sit in standard classroom desks may need to turn a bit in their chairs.
- Maintain a neutral wrist position. Keeping the wrist straight during writing prevents wrist pain and protects against carpal tunnel.
- Grip the pen or pencil as lightly as possible. Squeezing too hard not only causes pain in the hand and fingers, but it also can result in a student’s grip slipping too close to the tip of the writing instrument.
- Use the shoulder, rather than the hand or elbow, to move across the page. The greater strength of the shoulder muscles mean that they fatigue less quickly than the wrist and elbow.
Healthy Writing Tools
Unlike standard writing instruments, ergonomic pens and pencils are designed to promote these correct postures. These writing instruments also incorporate ergonomic features, to increase user comfort. Ergonomic pens, pencils, and grips help to reduce force and contact stress. A wide variety of products is available, to fit any student’s needs:
- For younger children, who often use crayons, markers, and paintbrushes in addition to pencils or pens, cylindrical foam tubing offers extra padding. The tubing can be cut to any length, for customized support.
- Ergonomic pencil grips are a great option for elementary-age children. Economical and non-toxic, these grips are easy to throw into a pencil pouch or backpack pocket. Students can slide them on pens, pencils, highlighters, or other writing tools.
- Older students may prefer writing in ink, especially for assignments that need extra polish, like essays and reports. Ergonomic pens come in many different configurations. Fitted with offset or contoured grips, these pens prevent pain and fatigue during extended writing activities.
- Pens like the Ergo Sleek and Ring Pen are designed to reposition the hand and wrist during writing. The weight of the hand naturally provides the downward force for writing.
- For doing homework, students of all ages can use a slant board, which places the paper at a natural, upright position. To create a slant board at school, students can lean a thin three-ring binder against the desk edge.
Students of all ages spend a significant amount of time at school with writing instruments in hand. Parents can help protect their children from writing-induced muscle fatigue and RSI by encouraging proper writing posture and giving their children ergonomic writing instruments. Students who use correct posture and ergonomic writing tools can write with comfort and safety.