Written by Michele Wheat
Repetitive movement can leave many people hurting, especially while working or competing in a sports-related event. The term "repetitive strain injury," or RSI, encompasses an array of disorders that leave individuals uncomfortable. The condition affects various parts of the upper body, such as the forearm and wrists. It can even affect the lower extremities. Sufferers typically complain of pain or tenderness, stiffness, tingling, numbness, and cramping. It usually develops from doing a particular activity repeatedly for a long period of time, such as a high-intensity exercise or typing at a desk for hours. Some common repetitive strain disorders include tendinitis, bursitis, and carpal tunnel syndrome. The best treatment for an RSI involves proper prevention techniques, such as strengthening or stretching exercises of the wrists and forearm, coupled with resting the affected joint.
The Importance of Stretching and Strengthening the Wrists and Hands
Many people rely on their hands to perform a variety of daily tasks, such as weeding a garden, typing on a keyboard, or signing paperwork. These repetitive motions can cause your hands and fingers to weaken while performing these tasks. Practicing simple strengthening and stretching exercises can help prevent the development of a repetitive strain injury. These exercises will keep hands and fingers functioning at full capacity without any pain.
Wrist exercises help increase flexibility and functionality. They also help reduce the risk of developing inflammation around certain joints. Sufferers of a repetitive strain injury should consult their doctor before starting any strengthening or stretching exercise routine. A doctor will assess whether these exercises may aggravate the symptoms of the sufferer or help relieve them. In addition, a health professional can pinpoint the exact cause of the inflammation and find other ways to treat it without causing additional harm.
The Praying Arms Stretch
Stretching is one of the most effective ways of preventing a repetitive strain injury, especially the prayer stretch. The praying arms stretch provides relief along the forearms and wrist. Simply stand upright and place your palms together like you are praying. Next, close your elbows until they touch each other. Move your hands in front of your face. Both arms should be touching each other from the fingertips down to your elbows. At this point, slowly move your elbows apart while lowering your hands down to your waist. Stop once your hands reach your midsection or when you feel the stretch. You should hold the stretch anywhere between ten and 30 seconds before releasing and then repeating it.
The Extended Arm Stretch
The extended arm stretch may be one of the most popular stretches in an office setting. This stretch emphasizes relief of the finger tendons and forearm. While standing in place, extend one arm straight in front of you. Your arm should be at shoulder height. Face your palm down toward the floor. Relax your wrist until your fingers point down toward the floor. Use your free hand to grasp your fingers. Pull them back toward your body until you feel the stretch in your wrist. Hold the stretch anywhere between ten and 30 seconds.
You can perform this stretch in the opposite direction by extending your arm with the palm facing upward toward the roof. Use your free hand to press your fingers down toward the floor. Next, pull your fingers back toward your body. Hold the stretch anywhere between ten and 30 seconds. Repeat both stretches with the other arm. Then, repeat the stretch two or three times with each arm.
The Clenched Fists Stretch
For some people, standing in place for a few minutes may not be an option. In this case, you can perform the clenched fists stretch while sitting in your seat. Place your hands open on your thighs with your palms up and then slowly ball your hands into a fist. Next, raise your fists off your legs and back toward your body while bending at the wrist. Hold this stretch for ten seconds.
The Deck Press
Focus on strengthening your wrists while stretching to help lower your risk of getting a repetitive strain injury. Take a seat and place the palms of your hands face up under a desk or table. Next, press against the bottom of the table and hold for ten seconds. This exercise strengthens muscles in your wrists and forearms.
The Tennis Ball Squeeze
One of the easiest wrist-strengthening exercises simply involves squeezing a tennis ball. Squeeze a tennis ball firmly for ten seconds. This should not cause any pain; however, you should feel the muscles in your wrists working immediately.