An ounce of prevention, as the time-proven proverb declares, is worth a pound of cure, and this is strongly true in the case of carpal tunnel syndrome. If your work necessitates carrying out any activity that puts repetitive, long-term strain on your wrists – including such work as keyboarding or fine manual labor – then you should begin a program of preventative exercise as soon as possible.
The absence of aching, incessant pain in your wrists and numbness in your hands, years down the road from now, will be ample reward for taking a few minutes each hour to make sure your hands and wrists remain in proper condition despite the effects of your labors. Carpal tunnel syndrome is one of those ailments that is never fully curable, so the best technique for dealing with it is to work to ensure it never happens in the first place.
There is a plethora of different exercises to keep your wrists and hands properly toned and fit, so you can vary your regimen somewhat during the course of the day to keep the exercises fresh. You should take a five minute break every hour that you are working in a way that might eventually contribute to carpal tunnel syndrome and carry out at least one exercise for the hand and one for the wrists. Even such a brief session can make an immense difference to the future health of your wrists.
Hand and Finger Exercises
Moving the hand and fingers is vital to keeping carpal tunnel syndrome at bay, since the nerve that is pinched by the swelling of the joint passes down into the hand, and irritation there can trigger problems in the wrist as well. There are several different exercises you can choose from to keep your hands properly limber during the day. As with all exercises designed to head off carpal tunnel, you should carry out these with first one hand, and then the other.
One exercise that works quite well is to bring the fingers of one hand to a point, with the ends of all five fingers touching each other in a bundle. Wrap your other hand around this and hold the fingers tightly enough so that it is difficult, but not impossible, to open, and open and close them four or five times in succession. While closing them, press in with the other hand while resisting with the fingers of the hand being exercised, without resisting enough to prevent the fingers from being closed again.
An alternative (or accompanying) exercise is to alternately clench your hand firmly into a fist, then splay the fingers as wide and hard as possible, holding them splayed to the count of five. Alternate balling your hand into a fist and splaying it between five and ten times, then do the same with the other hand.
The thumb needs some specific attention as well, and you can provide this by stretching it out and back as far as it will go, then pulling gently back on it for five seconds to stretch the ligaments and tendons connecting it to the wrist. You can also fold the thumb across the palm of the open hand as far as it will go, and hold it there to the count of five, repeating the exercise from five to ten times.
Exercising the wrist is naturally the centerpiece of exercises designed to avert future problems in that area, and this can also be done quite easily on an hourly basis, without the need for any special equipment. Curl your hand into a fist, though not tightly, and turn it palm-up. Press down with moderate pressure on the fist using your other palm, while holding the fist in place and not allowing it to be pushed downwards. Turn the hand over after a count of five, and repeat the process.
Next, extend your arm straight out, with your hand vertical and your palm forward. Hook the fingers of your other hand around those of the hand being exercised and pull it back with moderate pressure. Hold it like this to the count of six, then splay your fingers as hard as possible and count to six again. Release your hand, let it relax, then repeat the exercise from five to a dozen times per hand.