Body basic: Wrists

Prevent repetitive strain or chronic stress in your wrists with these easy exercises.

By Maureen Hagan, Physiotherapist and certified fitness professional

These days, golfers and gardeners have a lot in common with cashiers and computer users. Why? They – along with others who work or play at an activity that involves repeated gripping – risk chronic stress or a more-serious overuse injury involving the wrist.

The flexor and extensor muscles of your forearm travel through your wrist's carpal tunnel and enable precise finger movements and a strong gripping action. If the flexors (on the palm side) and the extensors (on top) are overused and understretched, you could be headed for strain and pain. Here are two easy exercises that can help prevent – or cure – wrist and hand problems. You can do both standing or even while sitting at your desk.

Flexor stretch
1. Stand or sit tall. To keep your head and shoulders in the proper position, tuck your chin in so that your ears are directly above your shoulders. Next, pull your shoulders back and down. Lift both arms straight out to your sides to shoulder level, palms facing down; straighten, but don't lock, your elbows.

2. Bending at the wrist, gently lift the backs of your hands toward you, stretching your fingers to the ceiling. You should feel a gentle stretch across your wrists and along the undersides of your forearms up to the elbows; the tighter your forearms, the more intense the stretch will feel.

3. Hold this stretch while you inhale deeply, then exhale. Lower your arms.

Repetitions and sets
Do this stretch once or twice, three times a day.

Extensor stretch
This “hands down” extensor stretch will complement the flexor stretch.

1. Repeat step 1 of the flexor stretch.

2. Draw your palms downward and inward to face your body, gently stretching your fingers toward the floor. You should feel this stretch along the tops of your wrists and forearms.

3. Hold this stretch while you inhale deeply, then exhale. Lower your arms.

Repetitions and sets
Do this stretch once or twice, three times a day.


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