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Fitness Articles  ›  Special Concerns

Exercises for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

A Real Pain in Your Wrist No More

-- By Jason Anderson, Certified Personal Trainer
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For other jobs that entail repetitive use of the hands, apply the same principles above but look for opportunities to rotate job functions throughout the day (if possible) so that you're not performing the same repetitive tasks all day long. Think ergonomically when looking at a job function and choosing tools for the job. Be as body friendly as possible, considering alignment and form when you move during your tasks.

Anyone can take steps like these to help prevent carpal tunnel syndrome (or help alleviate its symptoms), but research has yet to prove that these steps will definitely prevent the problem.

How is it treated?
Carpal tunnel syndrome can be treated in a surgical or non-surgical manner. The initial treatment usually involves resting the affected hand or wrist for at least two weeks, avoiding activities that may worsen symptoms, and immobilizing the wrist in a splint to avoid more damage from twisting or bending.

If the wrist is inflamed, cool packs may reduce swelling. One interesting note that deserves special attention is that yoga has been shown to effectively reduce pain and improve grip strength among patients with carpal tunnel syndrome! Your best bet is to consult with your physician to discuss which treatment options may be best for you.

Below are some specific stretches and exercises that can help prevent carpal tunnel syndrome and reduce symptoms.

Carpal Tunnel Exercises
Carpal tunnel exercises can help prevent and ease the pain of carpal tunnel syndrome. While these exercises alone are not substitute for treatment and ergonomic positioning, they may offer some relief.

You can try this movement series at the start and end of your work shift, as well as during any breaks you take throughout the day.
  1. Stand up straight and extend both arms straight out in front of you.
     
  2. Extend your wrists and fingers acutely as if they were giving a "stop" signal. Hold this position for 5 seconds.
     
  3. Now straighten your wrists while relaxing your fingers.
     
  4. Keeping your wrists straight, make a fist and squeeze it tightly. Hold for 5 seconds.
     
  5. Keeping your fists clenched, bend your wrists down. Hold this position for 5 seconds.
     
  6. Straighten both wrists and relax your fingers again.
     
  7. Repeat this series 5-10 times, then relax your arms by your sides.
Even if you haven't experienced the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome, these exercises are simple, easy and feel great for anyone who uses the computers, works with hand tools, sews, plays an instrument or does other repetitive hand/finger tasks. Don't wait until your hands and wrists cause you pain—take proactive steps today.
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About The Author

Jason Anderson Jason Anderson
Jason loves to see people realize the benefits of a healthy, active lifestyle. He is a certified personal trainer and enjoys running races--from 5Ks to 50K ultramarathons. See all of Jason's articles.

Member Comments

  • These are the exercises I was doing when I was still in school. Please see video link below. I stopped doing these when I started working and then Carpal Tunnel Syndrome hit me. Now I am doing them again and thankfully it helps relieves tension.
    http://www.yout
    ube.com/watch
    ?v=cFmZhTc7Gbo - 5/7/2014 10:32:05 AM
  • Great article. Thanks - 7/11/2013 8:33:42 AM
  • Thanks for sharing. - 7/1/2013 7:08:44 AM
  • TREVOR022
    Just had to comment on your blog post. Have been looking for people who are going through the similar pain that I have been with my carpal tunnel syndrome. I have tried a combination of Tumeric and Bromelain that seems to help a bit. I have been using a AWESOME brace I got from this link: http://www.bracea
    bility.com/wr
    ist-braces-wr
    ist-supports-
    wrist-splints
    -hand-and-wrist-braces
    Hopefully some of my suggestions will help a bit!
    Good luck!
    - 5/24/2013 4:09:42 PM
  • RICKYO52612
    I had carpal tunnel surgery and it was no picnic let me tell you. I suffered for about 8 years before I was diagnosed with it. The two test that are given to determine if you have carpar tunnel or not is really painful. The longer you wait to have the surgery if needed the less likely you will feel better. My doctor told me that it depends on how extensive the injury will be how well you will heal, and for the surgery to help. I am glad I had the surgery but I waited to long. I still have some pain but not like I used to. I'm happy for how I feel now. My jobs have always consisted of "data entry" and that's where it began, but that's all I know. Well hope this helps a little, good luck to anyone who decided to have surgery. - 5/20/2013 9:37:12 PM
  • I haven't been diagnosed with the carpal tunnel syndrome but I'm pretty sure I'm in the early stages of it. My right thumb hurts/tingles/goe
    s numb when I use my netbook for prolonged periods of time.

    These exercises felt great though. They really stretched out the sore areas. I'll be bookmarking these! - 9/6/2012 10:37:17 PM
  • Those exercises really hurt!!! I will have to build up to 5-10 times. I could only do them 2x before the sharp pain made me stop. - 9/6/2012 11:34:09 AM
  • I actually had all of the symptoms you described about 5 years ago when I was editing a report of several hundred pages, single-handed (no pun intended). I lost the grip strength in my right hand for several months, and went to several different orthopedists, and finally to a physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist (physiatrist).

    The first orthopedist did not take my symptoms seriously and offered nothing. The second one misdiagnosed me and tentatively suggested surgery as a possible solution to my problem. The physiatrist finally gave me the treatment that made the difference. These three only agreed on one thing: it wasn't carpal tunnel syndrome. In fact, there is a book out there appropriately titled: It's Not Carpal Tunnel Syndrome! RSI Theory & Therapy for Computer Professionals. Jack Bellis (Author), Suparna Damany (Author) It's basically a soft tissue injury that results from overuse, like tendinitis.

    Once I got the right treatment, it took me about 6 months to recover. The physiatrist prescribed hot and cold water treatments for immediate pain control: soak the affected arm and hand in very hot water for two minutes, followed by soaking in very cold water for two minutes. Repeat, alternating hot and cold water for a total of 10-12 minutes. Then he prescribed several rounds of prolotherapy. For more on this, go to: www.treatingpain.
    com. Strengthening the upper body and maintaining good posture help too.

    I benefited from all of the treatments. I also benefited greatly from an ergonomic evaluation of my work station. I learned the right way to sit and adjust my station, and I learned what to look for in office furniture. I got a new keyboard tray that elevates the mouse pad so I can keep my hands at a constant height and in a neutral position whether using the keys or a mouse. I also got a "natural" keyboard. While waiting for the pain relief to kick in, I began using the mouse in my left hand, and after about a month or so, I made the switch permanent to reduce the strain on my right hand. ... - 7/6/2010 7:52:17 PM
  • I started having problems with tingling and numbness in my hands more than 10 years ago. Since I worked a lot at the computer I assumed it was carpal tunnel. Testing showed it was partly carpal tunnel and partly a problem with the ulnar nerve, which causes the same numbness and tingling in the outer part of the hand. Those exercises, varying my activity and taking vitamin B12 daily have just about eliminated my problems. The B12 is crucial for me, though. If I go more than a day or so without taking it, I start getting tingling again. - 7/6/2010 7:44:16 AM
  • I strongly suggest to anyone experiencing these symptoms - get to a doctor and get it checked. Even if it turns out not to be carpal tunnel, at least you'll know for sure before something more damaging could occur. I've had carpal tunnel for several years (I'm a musician, lots of repetivite motion in my hands and fingers every day). I was diagonosed when I was in college, and by the time I started to have symptoms, I already had some mild permanent nerve damage in my hand. It doesn't affect my day-to-day funtioning, but if I'm typing or playing an instrument where fine control is an issue, there is a slight difference in the reaction time of my hands. - 6/30/2010 9:06:52 AM
  • ENJOYINGLIFE57
    Many years ago I was complaining to my doctor about the symptoms of carpal tunnel. I didn't work on a computer or do any of the things that are known for causing the condition. He gave me the old "if you lose weight" line and I left disgusted. Why is it any and all problems were blamed on my weight. But you know what...he was right. Since losing weight I very seldom have a problem with my wrists. He said fat builds up in the tunnel causing pressure on the nerve. And here's the intersting thing... back in April I had a virus that caused my hands to swell. During that period the carpal tunnel was raging, my hands were constantly tingling and sore. As soon as the virus cleared up, so did the carpal tunnel. So that told me that the doctor was right...anything building up in the tunnel put pressure on the nerve whether it be fat or fluid!
    - 6/30/2010 7:49:28 AM
  • A similar condition is 'De Quervain's Syndrome', which affects a tendon at the side of the wrist, just below the thumb joint. The treatment is very similar. I used scissors and pruners frequently, and one day I couldn't grasp the pruners with my right hand. While that hand was being braced, I used the left hand and developed the same problem there! Eventually, I had surgery (quick inpatient surgery with about 3 weeks to recovery) to release both tendons and have been pain-free since. The funny thing was - when they saw the wrist braces, everyone assumed it was carpal tunnel and that I shouldn't be typing - it never did hurt to type, and my job involved being at a keyboard all day! - 6/29/2010 2:23:10 PM
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