Updated on Feb 4th 2023 – Every year, hundreds of thousands of office workers suffer from RSI and pain in their hands and arms from the same old motions they do every day. Think of software developers, who spend hours typing on a keyboard, moving their mouse around, and swiping on touchscreens. These tiny actions, done repeatedly all day, can lead to carpal tunnel and musculoskeletal disorders. And if they don’t get treated, it could even mean losing their job.
According to leading chiropractors, the most common kinds of injuries afflicted by computer users at their workplace are :
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- (RSI) Repetitive Stress Injury
- “Mouse shoulder”
- Posterior cervical dorsal syndrome or “Computer Back”
- Lumbar sprains and strains
- Tennis elbow
- Disc injuries
A 2008 study painted a pretty grim picture for folks who spend all day working their hands. The findings showed that anyone who clocks more than 20 hours a week on the computer is in for a real risk of hand and wrist problems, like carpal tunnel syndrome.
Research shows that hand exercises, like light strength training, yoga, and massage, can help ease mild RSI and carpal tunnel. A 2011 study on patients with carpal tunnel found that grip strength and overall physical exam scores improved in 21% of patients after just one month, and 34% after three months of hand exercises like using an exercise ball. These results suggest that hand exercises are a great first step in treating mild carpal tunnel, before moving on to more invasive treatments.
More evidence backs up the benefits of hand splints and exercises for common strains. In a study, two groups of patients were treated – one wore a hand splint at night for a month, the other did nerve and tendon gliding exercises. The group with carpal tunnel saw much better results in both.
Many clinics and healthcare facilities use a combination of non-surgical treatments, like hand exercises, to treat moderate hand and wrist injuries, both at work and at home. This includes everything from taking a break, wearing splints at night to keep wrists straight, to custom exercises that strengthen, stretch, and unwind the arms and hands.
For those who spend a lot of time in front of computers, basic hand exercises are an effective way to prevent or treat mild hand and wrist injuries. They’re easy to do, can be done anywhere, and won’t take up too much time.
9 Hand and wrist exercises people should practice
1. Thumb Touches
Thumb touches exercises for computer users help to align coordination between the thumb and forefingers and also raise blood flow back to the fingers.
credits: webmd | mouse hand pain exercises
Stick your hands out with your palms facing up. Take your right hand, and slowly bring your thumb to touch the tip of each finger one by one. Do the same with your left hand. Go back to the starting position. Do this five times with both hands.
2. Shaking It Off
Loosen up those stiff wrists and hands by giving ’em a shake after sitting still for a while. It’ll boost blood flow and get your joints moving again. Just stick your hands out in front of you with your palms facing down. Shake ’em gently, letting your wrist go all relaxed. Do it for 10-15 seconds. Repeat the shake three times.
3. Thumb Flexion and Extension
Unclench your hands by holding them out in front of you, facing out. Give your thumbs some TLC by stretching them over your palm until you feel a good stretch. Hold that position for 10 seconds then release and get back to starting position. Do this thumb stretch 10 times with both hands, to keep your thumbs from getting stiff during those long work days.
4. Fist to Fan out
The fist-to-hand stretch is a great way to loosen up your whole hand and say goodbye to stiffness in your joints and muscles.:
Hand exercises for carpal tunnel | credits: medicalnewstoday
Start with your hands in front of you, palms down Make fists with both hands Half-open your fists, keeping your fingers bent at the knuckles Hold for 2 seconds Stretch your hands wide, straightening all five fingers Hold for 2 seconds Make a fist again and repeat
Do this whole thing 5 times.
5. Grip Strengthening
Start by sitting down and resting your right arm on a table Grab a hand gripper or rubber ball with your hand Squeeze the gripper or ball as hard as you can for 5-10 seconds Relax your hand and repeat with the other hand Do 3 sets of 10 reps with each hand to improve your grip strength and protect your wrist from repetitive strains and injuries.
Start squeezing and releasing it with all your fingers and thumb in a quick succession. Do this for 10-15 times until you feel a stretch in the bottom of your forearm, then switch to your left hand.
6. Wrist Stretch
The wrist stretch is a great way to loosen up those stiff joints in your wrist after a long day of typing and texting. Here’s how:
Stick your right hand out in front of you, palm up Grab all four fingers with your other hand Gently pull your fingers down towards the ground Hold this stretch for 10 seconds, then let go and return to starting position Do the same with your left hand, hold for 10 secs Repeat the whole thing 5 times.
Hand exercises for rsi | credits: workit
7. Wrist Flexion and Extension
Give your wrist a quick pick-me-up with this wrist flex and extend stretch. It’s a surefire way to get the blood flowing and keep carpal tunnel and other strain injuries at bay.
Wrist exercises for carpal tunnel | credits: zeppidy
Plop down with both feet flat on the floor, prop one arm on the desk edge with your palm facing down and hand hanging off the edge. If your wrist feels uncomfortable, cushion it with a small towel. Then, gently stretch your hand towards the ceiling until you feel the stretch. Hold it for 15 secs, then release back to starting position. Flex your hands towards the floor for a stretch, and repeat the stretch 3 times for each direction. Don’t forget to switch hands and repeat the process with the other hand.
8. Praying position stretch
Stand tall and press your palms together in a praying position, so that your elbows touch. Keep your hands in front of your face, with your arms touching from fingertips to elbows. Slowly spread your elbows apart while lowering your hands to your waist. Pause when you reach your stomach or feel a good stretch. Hold it for 10-30 secs, then repeat. Reach one arm out in front of you at shoulder height, with your palm facing down. Let your fingers dangle and use your other hand to gently pull them back towards your body. Hold for 10-30 secs.
Over the past 40 years, work has shifted from manual to technological. Gone are the days of hoisting heavy materials in factories and warehouses, replaced by typing and phone use. Although this change has been great for our spines, it’s come with its own set of problems – moderate hand and wrist pain for modern office workers.
There’s plenty of proof that hand exercises can help alleviate pain and prevent issues like carpal tunnel syndrome, repetitive strains, and work-related musculoskeletal disorders. Taking just a few minutes a day to exercise your hands can go a long way in keeping them pain-free. Investing in an ergonomic mouse and keyboard can also reduce the risk of developing carpal tunnel and other hand injuries caused by repetitive strain.
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