Although most of the exercises for fighting tendinitis which have been described here are targeted either to the tendons or to the major nerves that are involved in the movement and sensation of the wrists and hands, there are also some general exercises that apply to the whole region from fingertips to elbow. These stretching exercises are appropriate for everyone who has tendinitis (absent pain or a doctor’s recommendation not to use them), and also for those who want to limber up this area periodically while working, in order to forestall future tendinitis.
Most of these exercises are performed one hand at a time with alternating hands. The hand which is not being exercised – called the “free hand” here – is often used to assist the stretching process and make the flexion more complete. After carrying out a stretch, switch the exercising hand and free hand, and so on until you have completed your repetitions.
Note that these hand exercises are designed to ease and stretch the tendons, ligaments, nerves, and joints themselves, not to build any kind of muscular strength. As such, many repetitions are unnecessary – three or four of each stretch is sufficient. The frequency of these stretches depends on how hard you are working – light work, such as typing on a computer, requires stretches only once every two hours, while heavy work should prompt stretching every half hour or so.
Specific Hand Exercises
The exercises that are involved in these stretches require no special equipment. As with all tendinitis related exercises, be cautious and gentle, and stop if there is more than a slight, pleasant twinge of effort in your sinews, joints, and tendons. Here are the specific exercises to use:
Opening moves – hold your upper arms at your sides and your forearms extended straight in front of you, palms facing each other. Spread your fingers and thumbs as far apart as possible, bending them back simultaneously, and hold like this for several seconds before bringing your fingers back together. Repeat this several times. Then, on alternate hands, pull your thumb back with your free hand until you feel strong tension, pressing near the base (not the tip).
Stretch the wrist and forearm by extending your hand palm down and allowing it to hang loosely at the wrist. Use your free hand to pull it back towards your elbow until you can feel proper tautness inside your arm. Curling your fingers into a loose fist will increase the tautness.
Repeat the same stretch, except that this time, rotate the exercising hand so that its palm faces outward, and press it back towards the elbow with the free hand. Hold for up to half a minute.
Continue by stretching your arm out horizontally with the hand bent upwards and the fingers pointing at the ceiling, and press against the bottom of your fingers with your free hand. Rotate the hand outwards and then downwards so that the thumb ends up on the outside of the hand and the fingers are pointing at the floor, with the palm facing forward (unlike the previous two stretches, where the palm faces backwards towards the elbow). Then, pull back with the free hand to increase tautness and hold. This exercise may require you to bend the exercising arm at the elbow rather than keeping it straight, due to its difficulty.
The next exercise uses both hands at once, so there is no “free hand”. Place your palms and fingers pressed together and pointing upwards in front of you, as if you are praying or about to make a Japanese style bow. Keeping your palms pressed against each other, raise your elbows upwards, without lifting your hands at the same time. This will stretch the muscles and tendons on the underside of both forearms simultaneously.
Finally, make a fist in front of your body, put your free hand atop it, and press down while pressing up with the fist, and hold for 6 to 12 seconds. Then, move the free hand underneath the fist, and press up while pressing down with the fist for 6 to 12 seconds.