Carpal tunnel syndrome is an increasing affliction our age, when so many people work at keyboards and have generally low amounts of wrist strength in any case thanks to a sedentary lifestyle. Carpal tunnel syndrome can also occur spontaneously, though you are more apt to develop it if your wrists are moved or tensed repetitiously for hours on end every day.
Those who fear developing carpal tunnel syndrome are usually very keen to avoid the surgery that is used as a cure for this problem. The surgery is expensive, time-consuming, and may cause additional or different problems with the wrist in any case. There are some hand exercises which can be used to help forestall carpal tunnel syndrome, or at least to help alleviate the discomfort, pain, and numbness that it causes if you already have the condition.
Note that these exercises are not a miracle cure in and of themselves. You should still carry out other anti-carpal tunnel syndrome activities, including wearing a wrist support (one of the most effective methods for those who already have a mild to moderate case of irritation). Exercises are highly useful after you have had wrist surgery, also, because they will help to prevent formation of scar tissue in areas where it might press on the nerves or affect the motion of the wrist.
Basic Carpal Tunnel Exercises
Exercising the hand for basic carpal tunnel treatment is a fairly straightforward process and involves no special equipment. All you need is a few free minutes and the determination to carry the exercises out regularly.
Stand in an upright pose to begin your carpal tunnel exercises, and stretch your arms out straight in front of you. All of the basic exercises are done with your arms extended in this fashion. First, bend your hands straight up and hold them palms out, with the fingers straight and pointing towards the ceiling, for around five to ten seconds. Straighten your hands, then clench them into fists.
Keeping your hands clenched into fists, bend them straight down as far as they will go while keeping your arms straight out in front of you. Again, hold this pose for five to ten seconds, depending on what is comfortable. Straighten your hands and relax your fingers again so that they are pointing straight out in front of you. You are now ready to repeat the whole sequence.
The usual number of repetitions is from eight to a dozen, though this varies depending on how recently you began the exercises. Since they are designed to prevent irritation and pain in the wrists, you obviously should not continue them to the point where they cause pain or injury! As soon as your wrists start feeling uncomfortable, you should stop for a while. Build up slowly to a full dozen repetitions if the condition of your wrists merits such a gradual approach.
Carpal Tunnel Prevention Exercises
If you work in such a way that your efforts might cause carpal tunnel syndrome in the future, but there are no problems yet, you can help prevent the development of this nerve irritation by carrying out a few simple exercises at various times during the day. The exercises described above are best for those who already have carpal tunnel syndrome, but are rather weak for those who are trying to head off the complaint in the future.
The preventive exercises should be performed hourly when using your hands for repetitious work such as typing, and should occupy no more than five minutes of time. However, the payoff in prevention of future pain, surgery, and inconvenience is immense for such a limited time investment. There is a wide range of different exercises that will keep the wrist limber and healthy despite the stresses of your work, and a closer look at some of these is taken in the next article.