Carpal tunnel syndrome. It’s a scary phrase. When this nerve problem begins, it’s like a runaway train… hard to control and stop from wrecking everything around you.
Without your hands, it’s difficult to type and work. Drive and eat. Taking a bath and brushing your teeth even becomes difficult.
I haven’t personally had this disorder, but shortly after becoming a mom I did have tendonitis in my wrists as a result of suddenly picking up a baby all day long. I had to do physical therapy and the pain was excruciating. I don’t wish this on anyone!
Statistics from the NIH show that women are 3 times more likely to get carpal tunnel the men (the part of their wrist that compresses the medial nerve is smaller), and assembly workers are 3 times more likely to get carpal tunnel due to repetitive movement stress.
So how can I avoid it? Watch your repetitive movements and be sure you’re not overdoing it.
We also know that exercises and stretches can help, so getting a daily dose of these in will feel good, and be good for you.
Even if you’re not worried about carpal tunnel, even normal typing and texting we do all day long should be counterbalanced with targeting stretches and exercises.
I’ve put together 5 wrist stretches to do daily to help improve the function in the wrist joint. I asked my colleague Christian Valentin, a top notch personal trainer who’s passionate about proper form and alignment, to help demonstrate these exercises:
First, let’s stretch the wrist flexors. You can do this 2 ways. When working at my desk, I like to simply stand up and place my wrist on the desk and lean into this stretch. Christian is demonstrating it on the floor and the wall to give you multiple options. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds.
This next stretch also has a wrist flexor stretch but also an added component of a neck stretch, which addresses the impact of the cervical spine on the arms and hands. This also gives the wrist medial nerve a good stretch. This can be done standing or sitting in a chair that doesn’t have arm handles. But sure that your head is pulled back into good posture (ear over the shoulder) before you begin this movement. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds.
This next one is an amazing stretch for the thumb flexors. Make sure you do both hands and keep the arm still as you bend the wrist. Don’t pull too hard and hold each side for 30 seconds.
I love this next movement for the radial nerve. It feels best when done dynamically, which means moving slowly through the position 5 to 7 times (no static hold). Imagine you are holding an egg in front of you and then you plan to pass the egg to someone behind you. Yes, it’s an odd description, but it works.
Finally, this one is the hardest and most challenging to perform. Again it’s best done dynamically so move through the stretch 5 to 7 times versus holding still. This one gets the ulnar nerve so you will feel it in the pinky side of your hand.
If you’ve done these 5 movements, your wrists are warmed up and your nerves should all be moving better. These didn’t take long, so adding them into your daily routine should be an easy solution to your hand and wrist pain.
Please comment below, do you have wrist issues? If so, what has helped you resolve them?