Try These Stretches If You Want to Avoid Carpal Tunnel

Try These Stretches If You Want to Avoid Carpal Tunnel

Your median nerve runs the length of your forearm and into your hand and provides sensation to your index, middle, and ring fingers, as well as your thumb. 

Conveniently, the tendons, bones, ligaments, and muscles in your forearm and wrist create the carpal tunnel, a passageway that allows the median nerve to pass through unencumbered.

If anything narrows that passageway or intrudes on the space and pushes on your median nerve, you feel the effects in your fingers, hand, and wrist. You might lose grip strength, experience tingling sensations, or lose your ability to feel hot and cold temperatures. 

This is carpal tunnel syndrome, and it’s one of our areas of expertise here at Tuscaloosa Orthopedic & Joint Institute in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. 

Dr. Bryan King diagnoses carpal tunnel syndrome and offers several conservative treatments that can reduce or eliminate your symptoms. But it’s much better to avoid the problem altogether.

To that end, we’ve put together this list of simple stretches that can help you prevent the onset of carpal tunnel syndrome before it begins.

1. Extend your wrists

To stretch the inner muscles in your forearm, hold your arm out straight in front of you with your palm facing forward and your fingers pointing upward as if to signal “stop.” Use your other hand to gently pull your fingers toward you and hold the position for 15 seconds. Repeat the stretch five times with each arm.

2. Flex your wrists

To stretch the outer muscles in your forearm, do the same movement as for the wrist extension, but point your hand downward so the back of your hand faces forward and your fingers point to the ground. 

Follow the same procedure by pulling your fingers toward you and hold it for about 15 seconds for about five repetitions on each arm.

3. Squeeze a ball

Just like your quads and biceps, your hands need a good workout to stay strong and healthy. Build up the muscles by squeezing a small, soft ball repeatedly. Shoot for holding a firm squeeze for about five seconds at a time, and then release the tension. Do this about 10 times with each hand.

4. Lift weights

Wrist workouts are easy and convenient — you don’t even need a gym. Simply hold your arm out in front of you or rest your forearm on a flat surface with your wrist and hand past the edge. Hold a water bottle or a can of beans in your hand, and bend your wrist up and down. Do three sets of 10 on each wrist.

5. Do spider lifts

Press all of your fingertips together and turn your hands so your fingers point downward. Press your palms together, then push them apart, while keeping your fingertips in constant contact. The motion looks like a spider doing pushups on a mirror.

6. Glide your nerves and tendons

To improve wrist and hand mobility, perform exercises that release tension on your median nerve — specifically, nerve and tendon glide stretches.

For the nerve glide, extend your arm out in front of you with your palm down. Keep your fingers and thumb pressed against one another. Bend your wrist upward in the “stop” position, and then extend your thumb away from your fingers. Rotate your palm so it’s facing up, and use your other hand to gently pull back on your extended thumb. 

For the tendon glide, position your forearm so it’s facing up. Bend your finger at the top and middle knuckles only like a hook, hold it for three seconds, then make a tight fist with your thumb on top. 

You can also vary this by bending your fingers at the bottom knuckles only before making the fist. Either way, hold each change of position for 3-5 seconds.

You can perform nerve and tendon glides several times a day, and studies show that they can significantly improve your carpal tunnel symptoms.

How we treat carpal tunnel syndrome

If you already have carpal tunnel syndrome, Dr. King evaluates your wrist and hand to determine the severity of the condition. If you have a mild case, you may be able to resolve it with exercise and stretches like those we mentioned, plus a change in activities for a while. 

Splinting can also lessen symptoms by holding your wrist straight and allowing your median nerve to heal.

Inflammation is one of the main culprits in carpal tunnel syndrome, so an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory, such as ibuprofen, can ease the internal swelling, as can intervals of ice therapy. 

If your carpal tunnel syndrome is severe, Dr. King may recommend surgical intervention to release the pressure from your nerve. 

If you have carpal tunnel syndrome, don’t live with it; we can help. To schedule an appointment, contact us today. 

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