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Stretches for Your Wrist, Hand Health

  • Category: General
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Stretches for Your Wrist, Hand Health

Your hands are in constant motion, from typing on a keyboard to opening a jar of pickles.

Your hands and wrists are made of muscles, tendons, and bone, and they are susceptible to injuries just like other parts of your body. Stretching can help ease stiffness and retain range of motion to reduce your chances of injury.

Why stretching is important 

Without proper care, your hands and wrists can experience soreness, stiffness, and aching joints, thanks to constant use. Stretching can improve blood flow to your hands, warming the muscles giving them the oxygen they need to keep moving. It also helps reduce the risk of injury by improving muscle development and increasing your range of motion.

Hand and wrist exercises can help ease stiffness and pain from arthritis. It helps you increase your range of motion and flexibility so you can perform everyday tasks with less discomfort. If you suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome, ulnar tunnel syndrome, or sprains/tendonitis of the wrist, fingers, or thumb, then regular stretching can help alleviate problems and keep your hands and wrists healthy and strong.

Ideas for stretches

  • Desk press: While seated, place your palms face up under a desk or table. Press upwards against the bottom of the desk. Hold for 5 to 10 seconds. This exercise strengthens the muscles that run from your wrists to your inner elbows.
  • Tennis ball squeeze: Squeeze a tennis ball or stress ball firmly for 5 to 10 seconds. This exercise strengthens your wrists.
  • Thumb push: Make a fist and point your thumb up, as if you’re giving a thumbs-up sign. Try to keep your thumb and hand muscles from moving while you gently pull back on your thumb with your free hand. Hold the stretch and repeat several times.
  • Thumb pull: Like the push exercise, make a fist and point your thumb up. Try to keep your thumb and hand muscles from moving while you gently push your thumb forward with your free hand. Hold the stretch and repeat several times.
  • Hand Flex: Hold your hands in an upright position, keeping your fingers spread apart. Gently draw your hands into loose fists, with your thumbs on the outside. Without squeezing the fist, hold the stretch for a few seconds, then open your fingers apart to the starting position. Hold your hands open for a few seconds, then repeat the loose fist. This exercise stretches the ligaments in your fingers.
  • Wrist Flex: Sit in an armchair and rest your forearms and wrists on the arms of the chair, letting your hands (palm down) hang over the edge. Bend your wrists back towards your arms and then lower your hands back down. This exercise stretches the tendons and helps restore range of motion in the joint. 

How often to stretch

For best results, stretches should be done several times a day. For each exercise, hold each position for 5–10 seconds and do 10 repetitions of each exercise. Repeat two or three times a day. Stretches should be done slowly to avoid injury. If you feel numbness or pain during or after stretching, stop and contact your doctor.

When to see a doctor

If you find that stretching is not improving pain or stiffness, you should make an appointment to see your doctor. If you experience numbness, swelling or tingling, have a history of injuries or past surgeries, or have pain that doesn’t improve with rest, check with your doctor.