For many people, working at a computer or typing on a tablet or phone is how we spend a majority of our day. This can lead to several biomechanical issues or ailments including wrist inflammation and, potentially, carpal tunnel syndrome. In addition to setting up an ergonomically effective working environment, and putting down the iPad at dinner time, it’s important to include some elbow and wrist mobility as a part of one’s daily routine to help ward off the numbness and tingling that are precursors to much more severe disorders.
Because the wrists are distal (far away) from the core of the body, this joint, much like the ankle and the feet, can be affected by the joints that stem from the trunk—in this case, the shoulders. So it’s important to remember the importance of the shoulders when thinking about how the wrists and the rest of the arm functions. The following stretches, which will help improve mobility in the lower arms, can be performed in just minutes a day while sitting at a desk or in the car.
Sitting up tall, begin with palms together in front of the chest with elbows out. Roll the hands outward so the palms open up to the front; extend the arms while rolling the wrists so the back of the hands meet. Once the arms are fully extended and the backs of the hands are touching, roll the wrists so the thumbs come toward the face as the elbows bend inward. Continue to roll the wrists and bend the elbows until you’re back at the starting position. Repeat in the opposite direction.
Palms Up/Palms Down
Sitting up tall, extend the arms outward to the sides at shoulder height. Begin with the palms up with fingers spread wide and the chest open. Next, rotate the palms to face downward, pointing the thumbs backward. Rotate the palms up and down to feel the stretch through the forearms, biceps, shoulders and neck. Alternate this motion by beginning with the right palm up and the left palm down.
Begin with the arms extend in front and the palms facing up. Flex the wrists to point the fingers upward. Next, bend the elbows and bring the fingertips to the shoulders. Tuck the fingers in toward the biceps and point the elbows toward the sky. This stretch should be felt from the shoulders to the fingers.
Wrist Windshield Wipers
With the elbows bent at 90 degrees at the sides, flex the wrist in a variety of directions (holding light weights, if desired).
Palms down – left to right, up and down
Palms up – Left to right, up and down
Palms facing each other – left to right, up and down
Strengthening the joint above the wrist and its ability to move efficiently will help create a functional hand and wrist. With arms bent at 90 degrees, grasp a small band between the hands. Rotate the palms outward to stretch the band between the hands, while maintaining the position of the elbows and forearms.