Author: Jojo Varona
Working long hours at the computer, smartphones, and tablets every day can place serious strain on your fingers, hands and wrists. Overuse and strain can lead to all sorts of aches and pains that can impact your functioning at work, as well as at home. Daily use of these devices can cause you to make repetitive — and often awkward — hand and wrist movements that can sometimes result in pain or stiffness.
Stretching your hands and wrists regularly may be able to help you reduce your risk of injury and prevent or relieve discomfort. It is important to keep your hands and wrists flexible and strong so it doesn’t cause pain and discomfort that reaches into your arms, shoulders, and upper back.
Here are a few simple hand and wrist stretches that you can try. Check with your healthcare provider first if this is appropriate for you.
"Prayer" position wrist stretch
Place your palms together in front of your face in the "prayer" position while squeezing your forearms and elbows together. Gently spread your elbows apart and lower your hands toward your belly button until you feel a stretch in your wrists. Repeat the stretch a few times.
Palm-to-floor wrist stretch
Extend one arm in front of you, palm facing toward the floor. Bend your wrist so that your fingertips point toward the floor. Using your other hand, gently pull your fingers toward your body until you feel a stretch in the top of your wrist. After holding for a few seconds, repeat using the other arm/hand. Repeat the exercise a few times on each side.
Palm-to-ceiling wrist stretch
Extend one arm in front of you, palm facing toward the ceiling. Bend your wrist so that your fingertips point toward the floor. Using your other hand, gently pull your fingers toward your body until you feel a stretch in the underside of your wrist. After holding for a few seconds, repeat using the other arm/hand. Repeat the exercise a few times on each side.
With your elbows touching your sides, extend your forearms in front of your body. With your palms facing the floor, pretend you are loosely gripping the handlebars on a bicycle. Move your wrists up and down a few times, then side to side a few times. Finally, rotate your wrists in several circles toward the outside of your body, followed by several circles toward the inside of your body.
With your elbows touching your sides, extend your forearms in front of your body. Make a fist and hold for a few seconds. Then, open your hand, spread your fingers wide, and hold for a few seconds. Repeat the stretch a few times. If you have hand or wrist pain that worsens over time, is severe, interferes with your daily activities, or doesn't go away, you should see your healthcare provider. Hand or wrist pain can sometimes be a sign of a more serious problem, such as a fracture, tendonitis, arthritis, or carpal tunnel syndrome.
Carefully practicing these exercises can help improve the overall condition and flexibility of your arms, wrists and hands. Nevertheless, always keep in mind that if you’re experiencing pain or a diminished range of motion, you’re best advised to see your doctor and possibly a physical therapist.