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Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Exercises To Prevent And Manage CTS

Tuesday, March 20, 2012 - 17:51

Contributing Author: Guy Slowik FRCS

Your doctor or physical therapist should approve your exercise plan before you start.

Keep in mind that:

  • These exercises are not meant as a substitute for consultation and examination with a qualified specialist.
  • Those with an acute injury should not do some of these exercises.
  • Sets of exercises may be done several times a day as needed.
  • You should not use ice immediately before exercise.

Commonly recommended exercises for prevention and management of CTS include:

  1. Wrist range of motion (dorsiflexion/palmar flexion). Place forearm on a table with wrist off the edge, palm down. Bend hand downward as far as possible, then upward. Repeat 5 or 10 times.
  2. Wrist range of motion (pronation/supination). Place forearm and whole hand on table, palm flat on tabletop. Turn wrist so back of hand is now flat on tabletop. Repeat 5 or 10 times.
  3. Flexed forearm stretch with palm down. Without raising the shoulders, extend the affected arm straight out in front of the body and slowly, gently bend the wrist down with the free hand. Keep the fingers over the knuckles of the bent hand, not over the fingers. A stretch in the forearm muscles and the wrist should be felt. Hold 10 seconds; repeat 5 or 10 times.
  4. Flexed forearm stretch with fist. Repeat the preceding exercise, but this time first make a fist, then bend the wrist down. Hold 10 seconds; repeat 5 or 10 times.
  5. Forearm stretch with palm back. Another way to stretch the forearm muscles is to extend the arms straight out to the side, palms facing backward. Simply bend the wrists back. Hold 10 seconds; repeat 5 or 10 times.
  6. Dorsiflexed forearm stretch with palm out. Extend the arm straight in front of you with the palm facing outward. Place your free hand on the underside of the knuckles and press back toward the body. Do not raise the shoulders. A stretch in the underside of the forearm should be felt. Hold 10 seconds; repeat 5 or 10 times.
  7. Tendon glide. Start with a relaxed hand, fingers straight. Make a fist. Then slide your fingertips to the base of the palm, keeping the thumb straight. Then glide the fingers upward to make a "hook." Repeat 5 or 10 times.
  8. Neck Stretch. Sit or stand with head facing forward. Tilt the head down as far to the right as possible (right ear to right shoulder) and hold for 5 seconds. Place your right hand on the left trapezius muscle (between the neck and shoulder joint) to increase the stretch. Reverse instructions for the other side. Repeat 3 to 5 times.
  9. Shoulder shrug and rotation. Stand with arms at the sides. Shrug the shoulders up toward the ears, then squeeze the shoulders back, stretch them down and then roll them forward. Do the whole rotation slowly. Repeat 3 to 5 times. If you cannot comfortably do the whole rotation, just shrug the shoulders up and down.
  10. Pectoral stretch. Stand in a doorway (or an empty corner). Rest your forearms, including your elbows, on the doorframe, keeping your arms at a 90-degree angle. Lean forward till a stretch is felt in the chest muscles. Do not arch your back. Hold 20 seconds; repeat 5 times.

How To Information:

How to Modify Your Work Habits to Keep Pressure Off the Wrists

  • Take frequent breaks, every half-hour if possible, but at least every 60 to 90 minutes. Get up, stretch and walk around.
  • Rotate job tasks if possible.
  • Maintain proper posture.
  • Pay attention to proper ergonomics at your workstation. There are many variables in setting up a "user-friendly," comfortable workstation to minimize undue physical stresses. Typists should adjust the height and angle of their keyboards, for instance, to eliminate unnatural bending or twisting at the wrists, and they should not use palm rests while typing, only while pausing.
  • When grasping an object, use the whole hand, not just the fingers or thumb alone.
  • Choose well-balanced hand tools that are easy to hold.
  • Keep cutting instruments sharp and secured at hinges and pivots.
  • Use just enough force for the task at hand. Use power tools when possible.
  • Check compressed air tools periodically; too much pressure can be harmful for the hands and wrists.


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