Your fingers and hand, especially your thumb is constantly numb and tingly. You also experience a weakness in your hand. You feel as though you’ve been much more clumsy than usual because you’re always dropping objects. You are experiencing pain that’s consistent and it’s obvious that you have carpal tunnel syndrome.
There’s a number of reasons why you developed carpal tunnel syndrome and according to the New York Times:
“Evidence suggests that about 3% of women and 2% of men will be diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome during their lifetime, with peak prevalence in women older than 55. Still, determining how many people actually have CTS is very difficult. Many people report CTS symptoms and have normal test results. Other people have no symptoms and abnormal test results.”
You’re not alone with carpal tunnel syndrome but are there exercises you can do to help relieve the pain?
The finger stretch is a very simple exercise that you can do anywhere. This exercise is very subtle so you can relieve your carpal tunnel pain when you’re at work, at home or on the go without calling attention to yourself or distracting your co-workers.
- Start with your hands in a prayer position however, instead of putting your palms against each other put your fingertips together.
- Keep your fingertips pressed against each other with moderate pressure.
- Bring your fingers together as if you are bringing your thumbs towards your pointer fingers. This will cause all of your fingers to come together in the center.
- Move your thumbs away from the rest of your fingers and repeat for one minute, once an hour.
This move looks as if it’s stretching your fingers but it actually stretching your median nerve. If you aren’t aware the median nerve is the nerve that gets irritated in carpal tunnel syndrome from inflammation and is the cause of your discomfort. Stretching this nerve has the potential to relieve your discomfort.
Shake It Off
This is another simple exercise that is quick and easy to perform. However, this exercise may be a little more distracting than the finger stretch. If you’re considering performing this exercise at work I would hold off until lunch break for this one.
- Hold your arms out in front of you with your palms facing you
- Shake your hands as if you are shaking water off of your hands
If you work in an office and spend a lot of time typing, perhaps you do a lot of data entry or blogging; this is a great exercise for you. Doing this exercise a minute every hour will keep your median nerve, which is that nerve that causes carpal tunnel, to not get cramped. Also this exercise, though it may be distracting, can be fitted into your daily life easily. Perhaps you go to the bathroom once every few hours, assuming you are washing your hands you can use this exercise after you wash to dry and you won’t bring any unnecessary attention to yourself.
This exercise is another very popular stretch for carpal tunnel and wrist pain and this is most likely going to be the most intense stretch out of all the exercises I mentioned.
- Stand up straight and put your arm straight out in front of you with your palm facing the floor.
- Use your other hand to gently press down on your hand that is facing down.
- While you are pressing down keep that arm straight out.
- When you can’t stretch anymore hold the position for about 30 seconds
Performing this exercise multiple times a day will help you become more flexible in your wrist and can even relieve some pain caused by carpal tunnel. Like other exercises mentioned above, this exercise also stretches the median nerve causing increased circulation and relieving the pain caused from carpal tunnel.
The last stretch, the prayer stretch, is pretty self-explanatory. This exercise can be complete while you sit at your desk without bringing too much attention to yourself.
- Stand in a comfortable position with your hands in a position to look like your praying.
- The tip of you middle finger should be at the same height as your lips.
- Your elbows should be out at your side. Without moving your elbows move your hands down towards your sternum while keeping your hands in the prayer position. You should feel more pressure on your hands as you move down.
As you guessed, this causes the tendons and nerves in your wrist to stretch. As we stated before stretching your nerves improves circulation and can reduce the discomfort caused by carpal tunnel syndrome.
- American Accreditation HealthCare Commission (July 14, 2013) Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/health/guides/disease/carpal-tunnel-syndrome/risk-factors.html