The wrist is faced with stress during every day activities considering the fact that most of the work that people do require the use of the hands. Typing, texting, lifting weights, working with jackhammers, and playing sports are some of the activities that usually put a lot of stress in the wrist. Knowing this, the wrist is more likely to develop repetitive injuries that may lead to wrist injuries. One of these is carpal tunnel syndrome, which is the compression of the median nerve by the carpal tunnel leading to pain, tingling and numbness on the hands and wrist area.
Since we always use our hands in moving and working, the best way to avoid tension in the wrist area is to employ various stretching exercises. Not only will this increase the flexibility and strength of the wrist joint, it is also effective in preventing carpal tunnel syndrome. Moreover, those who already have carpal tunnel may also benefit from the following stretches:
• The praying stretch
This stretch usually relieves tension in the wrist area. If you already have carpal tunnel syndrome, this may produce pain in the hands so utmost care should be exercised. To do the stretch, place your arms in front of you in a praying position. Push the palms together so that the wrist will assume a 90 degree angle. You may do this several times a day in between activities.
• The fist stretch
This stretch is particularly useful to enhance the flexibility of the extensor and flexor muscles in the wrist and help prevent the pinching of the median nerve. Make a fist in one hand and place it on top of a table with the thumb up. Bend the wrist sideways to the left and to the right without moving the forearm. Next, slightly lift the fist off the desk and make circles while the elbow is on the desk. Repeat 5 times and repeat it on the opposite fist.
• The finger stretch
In carpal tunnel, the fingers may also be affected so stretching them may help prevent loss of motion. Start by putting the index finger on top of the edge of the desk. Keeping your wrist straight, gently push the finger on the desk. Repeat the stretch on all fingers.
• Wrist Flexor stretch
This stretch particularly increases the flexibility of the wrist flexors so they don’t push into the median nerve. Place the arms extended in front of you with the palms facing downward. With your left hand, push the fingers downward towards the ground. The wrist would be in a 90 degree angle during this stretch. Hold for 20 seconds and release. Repeat on the opposite side.
• Wrist extensor Stretch
This stretch, on the other hand, increases the strength and flexibility of the extensor muscles. It is similar to the flexor stretch, but it is done in the opposite direction. Place your arms in front you in an extended position with the palms facing the ceiling. Using your left hand, push your fingers downward so that the wrist in a 90 degree angle. Hold the stretch for 20 seconds, release and repeat on the opposite side.
• Forward stretch
The forward stretch is particularly useful to stretch the forearms. In a standing or seated position, interlace the fingers in front of your chest with the palms facing forward. Gently extend the arm outwards to stretch the arms. Hold the position for 20 seconds and release. Repeat for five times.
• Side stretch
After stretching the forearm forward, the next stretch that you need to employ is the side stretch. In a standing or seated position, put your arms in front of you in a lateral position (the palms should be facing each other). Make a fist and bend your wrist to the left and to the right while keeping the forearm stretched and still.
All these stretches aim at preventing carpal tunnel syndrome and for those who already have the condition, this will help relieve pressure on the median nerve and reduce the signs and symptoms.