Our hands and wrists are probably the one of the most overused, and least thought about body parts, when it comes to self-care and stretching. With our increased use of computers, cell phones, and other technologies that require the constant use of our hands, you may notice that your hands and wrists feel tighter, stiffer, even more sore than they had in the past. The constant typing and even gripping of items can fatigue your muscles, weakening your hands and wrists, and cause you pain and discomfort. Carrying grocery bags, gardening, knitting, writing, painting, working out, and a variety of other activities can all put strain on your wrists and hands with prolong and repetitive use. To help give your overused wrists and hands a break, it is always a great idea to do some simple stretches throughout the day. Stretches not only helps with flexibility and mobility of your joints, but they can help relieve tension and relax tight muscles, easing the pain and stiffness you may be feeling in your hands and wrists. The best part about stretching your hands and wrists is that you can do them anywhere, anytime. You do not need a lot of space or time to stretch them out! Here are some suggested stretches that you can do for your hands and wrists:
Closed fist circles – gently close your hands into loose fists. Rotated both fists in towards each other in a circular motion several times then reverse the direction to rotate in the opposite direction. Repeat both directs as needed. You may hear some crackling and popping, that it ok as long as there is no pain associated with the movements.
Straight arm flexion – with your arm lengthened (elbow straight) and palm facing down, use your opposite hand to gently pull your fingers up toward your body, flexing your wrist up. Repeat with other hand. Remember to only pull the stretch to where you can feel the tension, but not causing you any pain. You should feel a stretch on the underside of your wrist.
Straight arm extension – with your arm lengthened and palm facing down, use your opposite hand to gently press the back of your hand down toward the floor. Repeat with the other hand. You should feel a stretch on the topside of your forearm.
Sideways waves – arms may be straight or bent at the elbows. Rotate your hands so that your palms are facing each other. Move your hands up and down (as if you are waving, but sideways). Move your entire hand to bend at the wrists as you move your hands up and down. Again, light popping or crackling sounds are normal, as long as they do not hurt.
Interlaced fingers stretch – with both hands, interlace your fingers together and extend your arms out to stretch. This can be done with your arms straight in front of you or overhead. Gently push fingers forward, away from your body to feel a lengthening stretch.
Thumb circles – close straight fingers together and then open up the thumbs away from the rest. Circle the thumbs clockwise several times, then reverse and circle them counterclockwise several times. Repeat as needed.
Straight arm, single finger stretch – similar to the straight arm flexion (above), but instead of gently pulling all your fingers up toward your body, pull each individual finger up, one at a time. Start with your thumbs and move toward the pinky finger and back. Then repeat on the other hand. For a greater intensity of a stretch, try to keep all your fingers folded down (like a loose fist) and only straighten the one finger that you are pulling for the stretch.
Rotating prayer position – with elbows bent, press your palms of both hands together in front of you at chest level, like you are praying. With hands still pressed together, slowly rotate your hands away from you and try to point them facing down toward the floor. Depending on your wrist mobility, you may or may not be able to point your fingers all the way down. Only go as far as your range of motion is comfortable. Slowly rotate your pressed palms back up and try to rotate them back toward your body. Ideally you would like the fingers to be pointing directly at your chest (not down to the floor). Repeat the rotating palms slowly a few times.
For some other suggestions on stretches that you can do, here are some links to other articles and videos that I found online:
If you find that your hands and wrists are sore, tight, or even fatigued throughout the day or after activities, give these stretches a try. Do them several times a day or as needed to help loosen them up and relieve some of the tension. If doing any of these stretches is painful, feels sharp, or you experience tingling or numbness in your arms and hands, consult with your doctor right away to make sure that you do not have an injury or another possible health related condition.