There’s proven evidence that exercises, such as minor strength training, massage, and yoga, can cure mild RSI and carpal tunnel syndrome. According to a 2011 study, grip strength improved in 21% of carpal tunnel syndrome patients within the first month and 34% of patients by the third month. The study concluded that hand exercises, such as using an exercise ball, can be used as a practical treatment for Hemodialysis patients with mild carpal tunnel syndrome before seeking other invasive treatments.
More evidence also shows that hand splints and hand exercises can treat carpal tunnel syndrome. A study involving two groups of patients shows there was a significant improvement with carpal tunnel syndrome in both groups—one group wore a hand splint every night for four weeks while the other group practiced nerve and tendon gliding exercises besides hand splints.
More clinics, combine non-surgical procedures, such as hand exercises to treat severe hand and wrist injuries among white-collar workers. The treatment includes ample rest, wearing splints at night to keep the patient’s wrist straight, and specific exercises that strengthen, relax and stretch the arms and hands.
This means computer users who spend a lot of time on their computers, can use simple hand exercises to ward off or even treat mild hand and wrist injuries. Now, let’s dive into 8 of the most effective hand and wrist exercises you should do daily if you spend a lot of time typing and using the mouse.
1. Thumb Touches
These exercises help to align coordination between forefingers and the thumb. Also, they improve blood flow to the fingers.
Begin by holding your hands outwards with your palms facing upwards. With your left hand, slowly bring your thumb to touch the tip of every finger. Repeat this with the right hand and then return to the starting position. Repeat at least 10 times with both hands.
2. Shake It Out
After being in a stationary position for a while, shake out your wrists and hands. This is a great way to improve blood circulation and relieve stiff muscles and joints.
Start with your hands out in front of you, with your palms facing the floor. Slowly shake your hands by letting your wrists go limp. Do this for 15- 30 seconds and repeat at least five times.
3. Wrist Circles
Sit in a chair or stand with your legs slightly apart. Then raise your arms to about chest high, while your elbows are bent, such that your hands are out in front of you. You can leave your hands open if you want or make a fist. Move your hands in small circles and transition slowly to bigger circles, while keeping your arms still and only moving at the wrist. Do this for about 2 minutes and then repeat in the reverse direction.
4. Hand Open-and-Close
With your elbows touching your sides, stretch your forearms in front. Make a fist and hold this position for 30 seconds. Then open your hand and spread your fingers wide. Hold this position for 30 seconds. Repeat this stretch five times.
5. Simple Wrist Stretch
The simple wrist stretch is a fantastic way to relieve stiff joints in the wrist, especially after extended periods of typing and writing.
Hold your right hand out in front, with your palm facing upwards. Grip all four fingers with your left hand. Then, pull your fingers gently down towards the floor. Hold this position for 20 seconds and then release your right hand and go back to the starting position. Repeat this stretch with your left hand, holding for 20 seconds. Repeat the exercise on both hands at least five times.
6. Grip Strengthening Stretches
Strengthening your grip is an excellent way to improve your entire hand and forearm strength. Also, strengthening your grip strengthens your wrist muscles, protecting it from RSI.
Start in a seated position, with your right arm rested on your desk. Then, hold a hand gripper or rubber ball. Squeeze and release the gripper with all four fingers and your thumb in rapid repetition. Repeat this stretch at least 20 times until you feel a stretch at the bottom of your forearm. Then switch to the other hand.
7. Wrist Flexion and Extension Stretches
The wrist flexion and extension stretch improves blood flow to the entire wrist, and it wards off conditions, such as carpal tunnel syndrome and RSI.
Sit down with your feet flat on the ground and then place one arm at the edge of your desk, with the palm facing downwards and the entire hand dangling off the edge.
Gently stretch your hand at the wrist upwards until you feel a stretch. Hold this position for 20 seconds, then release back to the starting position. Next, slowly flex your hands downwards towards the floor until you feel a stretch. Repeat this stretch at least five times in both directions. Then switch hands and repeat with the other hand.
8. Praying Position Stretches
Start by standing up and placing your palms together in a praying position. Let your elbows touch each other. Your hands should be in front of your face and make sure your arms are touching each other from the elbows to the fingertips.
Then hold your palms together and gently spread your elbows apart. Next, lower your hands to your waist and pause when your hands are in front of your stomach or you feel a sufficient stretch.
Hold for 30 seconds and then repeat. Then, raise one arm in front of you at shoulder height. Keep your palm facing down and then loosen your wrist so that your fingers dangle downwards. With your free hand, lightly wrap your fingers and pull them closer to your body. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds.
Taking a few minutes every day to do hand and wrist stretches can ease pain and prevent conditions, such as RSI, carpal tunnel syndrome, or work-related musculoskeletal disorders. Combined with a good ergonomic keyboard and mouse, you can significantly reduce the chances of developing typing injuries.
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