We remember to stretch our legs before a short run but don’t always give our hard working hands and wrists the same consideration before typing flat out for an hour. Just as the quads and hamstrings need a good stretch so too do the muscles and tendons in our wrists and hands.
Wrist and hand exercises can reduce the chance of shortened or stiff muscles. Exercise can also build strength in the wrists and forearms to prevent injury. Spend a few minutes daily on hand and arm exercises to help avoid months of pain, therapy and reduced use later on.
Stretching to Prevent and Treat RSI
The muscles and ligaments in hands, wrists and forearms move your hands in different directions to perform many different movements. They are also essential to stop bones in the wrist and forearm from rubbing together. But the strain of repetitive movements like typing can cause an injury.
RSI has few treatment options. Once you have the debilitating disorder, it’s hard to treat. Some sufferers try everything from cortisone injections, deep friction massage, food supplements, a wrist brace, gels and tablets, and absolute rest with little improvement. One of the few RSI treatment methods that seem to work is stretching.
Follow our guide for stretches designed to make your wrists and hands stronger over the long-term.
Wrist Stretches and Exercises
Wrist exercises don’t just benefit RSI and mouse hand pain, they can also help with carpal tunnel syndrome, Colle’s fracture, Boxer’s fracture, Smith’s fracture, following surgery on a wrist, shoulder or elbow and after a stroke. Wrist stretching exercises before using them can keep RSI injuries at bay or reduce the symptoms.
#1 Stretching Against a Wall
Stand facing a wall and place your palms against a wall with straight arms out in front of you. Slowly rotate your hands inwards as far as you can and hold for 10 seconds. Keep your hands on the wall, turn them upwards and hold for 10 seconds before turning them outwards and holding for 10 seconds.
#2 Tennis Ball Exercise
Take a tennis or stress ball and hold it in the palm of your right hand. Place your right forearm on a table, squeeze the tennis ball and count to 5 then release. Do this 10 times and repeat with the left hand.
#3 Wrist Rotations
Hold your hands out in front of you at shoulder width apart, then make fists and then roll your wrist in a full range of motion as if you are drawing a big circle without moving your arms. Rolls your wrists around 10 times before swapping directions and roll the other way.
Hand Exercises and Stretches
Hand exercises are important for typists and gamers because they need strong fingers and a good range of motion. Weak hands become more of a problem as we age because everyday tasks like opening jars become difficult. Unless you’re elderly or your hand has been in a cast that has caused muscle atrophy, grip strength is not normally the main problem.
#4 Finger Stretches
With your hand out in front, gently pull back each finger one by one. Swap and stretch the fingers on the other hand. To stretch the palm of your hand, use one hand to pull back on all the fingers of your other hand at once. Swap hands. Make a fist with both hands and open slowly to stretch the fingers and thumbs as far as possible.
#5 Finger Bends
Hold your hands out front with a vertical palm and thumbs pointing up. Next, bend your right thumb toward your palm and hold for a couple of seconds before straightening your thumb back up. Bend your index finger toward your palm (while trying to keep your other fingers straight) and hold for a couple of seconds. Repeat with each finger and thumb on the other hand.
Treatment for RSI
When it comes to RSI, prevention is better than a cure. Strong fingers and wrist muscles are your best defence against injuries.
Try to make hand and wrist exercises part of your daily routine. Most of these exercises can be done anywhere, any time in just a few minutes so they are perfect to do at the office. Keep up the exercises even after you retire to keep your hands and wrists strong in your senior years when you are most at risk of breaks, fractures and muscle loss.
Combining hand and wrist exercises with ergonomic office equipment may help people suffering RSI symptoms. An ergonomic mouse keeps the hand in a more natural position than a standard mouse. An ergonomic keyboard allows hands to type at a slight angle, a more natural position. Specialised wrist rests and forearm supports are available that may help with some conditions.
For more information about ergonomic furniture and equipment, visit the Ergolink showroom, call us on (08) 9240 7066 or contact us online for personalised advice.