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One of the most challenging things for shorthand reporters is keeping pace with the spoken word for hours on end. Often the rate of speech is beyond your comfort level, and it is common to experience mental and physical exhaustion at the end of the day.
Use these exercises to keep your steno fingers in good shape and help avoid repetitive strain injuries overall.
The Hand Off
Sit or stand, keeping your feet apart at about the same width as your shoulders. Extend your arms with your palms facing the ground. Slowly lift your hands while keeping your arms in place until your fingers are pointing towards the ceiling and your palms face away from your body. Then lower your hand until your fingers point towards the ground and your palms face your body. Repeat five times.
The Fist Maneuvers
Utilizing the same position as described in the hand off, gently clench your fists, as though you were holding a steering wheel. Squeeze your fists tightly, maintaining the tension for five seconds. Release the tension, then curl your wrists downwards while keeping your arms in place. Curl them upwards and then return to the starting position. Repeat five times.
Sit with the backs of your hands resting on your knees, keeping your palms open. Stretch all of your fingers out as though you were showing someone you needed “five minutes.” While keeping your fingers stretched, bend your thumbs inward until they touch your palm. Repeat the process for each finger. Then touch each of your fingers to your thumb. Repeat the entire exercise five times.
Keeping your fingers in good shape is only one part of good body maintenance. Keeping your back and neck limber will also contribute to your overall endurance and comfort.
This is the classic warm-up exercise performed in many aerobics and cardio classes. Slowly roll your neck in circles, counter-clockwise ten times. Then perform an additional ten repetitions in the opposite direction.
Your back can often ache after hours of sitting, especially in those uncomfortable chairs you are sometimes subjected to. Keep your back limber by performing a “spinal shift” stretch. Don’t worry; it’s not nearly as drastic as it sounds!
Find a wall and stand with your heels, legs, and buttocks flush against it. Reach towards the ceiling with your left hand while reaching towards the floor with your right hand. Keep your back straight while performing this motion. Hold the position for five seconds, then slowly lower your left hand towards the floor while reaching for the ceiling with your right. Repeat five times.
Start by interlocking the fingers of your left and right hand, palms facing away from your body. Slowly raise your hands until they’re pointing towards the ceiling. Hold this pose for five seconds, and then slowly lower them back to the starting position. Repeat the process five to ten times.
By practicing these stretches before, during, and after extensive steno sessions, you’ll be able to maintain the stamina you need for this career. Long sessions will become easier, and you’ll continue working for years to come.
© Copyright 2014. Originally posted on the British Columbia Shorthand Reporters Association’s website.