Carpal Tunnel Exercises & Stretches

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a neurological condition where the main nerve tunnel along the palm side of your wrist becomes narrowed. This compresses the nerve, placing pressure on the tendons and ligaments in the hand and resulting in weakness and numbness in the hand and a radiating pain that can extend up the arm. You can reduce the symptoms of carpal tunnel or help prevent a flare-up with simple stretches and exercises.

  1. Stretches

    • Carpal tunnel is often a chronic problem caused by repetitive movements such as typing, card dealing, twisting a wrench or other actions that require constant hand contraction. You can mitigate the long-term effects of these actions with basic hand stretches. Pull the fingers gently, one at a time, away from the socket. You may hear a pop. This is the release of air in the joint and an acceptable sound. Keep your arm extended and pull the fingers back toward you, allowing them to point to the sky. Hold this and then pull them down. This stretches the arm muscles and hand tendons. Roll your wrists both clockwise and counterclockwise to loosen the wrist joints and relax the hand.


    • When doing an exercise to strengthen the area, be aware that, until you have relieved the pain and symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome, you want to be careful about strengthening the muscles which are in the most pain. The reason is that you need to restore balance to hand strength to relieve as much pressure on the compressed area as possible.

      Use a soft ball to do hand squeezes. You can increase resistance later as you regain more strength. Alternate the fingers you use to squeeze the ball, using just the pinky and ring fingers for one set and the middle and fore fingers for the next. Try different combinations. Wrist curls with light weights can also help improve forearm strength. Use a rubber band around your fingers to work on opening the hand with resistance. This is a great exercise to restore balance from activities that require frequent fist closing.

    Tension Release

    • The key to alleviating the pain of carpal tunnel syndrome is to release the tension placed on the nerve in the hand. Always consult your doctor prior to starting a new workout plan. Icing the hand after doing the exercise routine and taking anti-inflammatory medicine will help prevent more pressure.

      You can also reduce tension in the hand by shaking your hands out during frequent breaks in work or routine. Shoulder shrugs and arm rotations are also great exercises that release tension in the arms and shoulders that permeates down to the wrist.

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