If you’re one of the 3 million Americans who have been diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome this year, you don’t need anyone to tell you the symptoms: sore wrists, aching hands, and sharp shots of pain up the forearms. This condition, common in an age where many jobs require high-intensity typing, is the cause of nearly half of all missed work time in the U.S, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. While the best thing to do to address carpal tunnel is to evaluate treatment options with your doctor, there are a few simple carpal tunnel stretches which can help relieve the pain from the comfort of your desk (or living room).
Wrist Flexor Stretch
Extend your arm out in front of you with the palm facing upwards. Then, by gently bending your wrist backwards, try to point your hand down towards the floor. Use your other hand to help bend your wrist a little farther, until you feel a mild stretch in your forearm. Hold this position for at least 15 seconds, repeating at least 10 times.
This is the Church, This is the Steeple
Remember that old nursery rhyme from your childhood? Like you did back then, form your hands into a “steeple” position, with the palms apart and fingertips touching. Gently press your fingertips together as long as it is comfortable to do so. As with all stretches, avoid causing any sharp, sudden pains.
Ball your hand into a fist, then un-curl your fingers, stretching them upwards as far as you can. Repeat at least 15 times until your fingers feel more limber. An alternative to this stretch is to fan out your fingers as far apart as you can.
Bring your palms together in front of your chest so that you look like a praying Buddha statue (or yoga enthusiast). Then slowly lower your hands towards your waistline, keeping your hands close to your stomach and your palms together. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds, and repeat 10 times.
Stand back from a wall at arm’s length. Gently push your palm flat against the wall, holding it in that position for 15 seconds. After repeating this several times, place your palm flat against the wall again. This time, twist your wrist so that your fingers are facing downwards towards the floor. Repeat this movement 10 times.
Remember—these exercises, while helpful, are only temporary measures to control the effects of carpal tunnel. An Orthosleeve compression wrist sleeve with Compression Zone Technology worn at night and during the day, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications, and the application of ice can all help relieve symptoms as well. Be sure to speak to a medical professional about the best course of action to treat carpal tunnel.