You probably don’t often think about stretching your wrists, but it’s important for maintaining good circulation. ‘Carpal tunnel syndrome is common, especially in women,’ says Lori Townsend, a physical therapist at The Downtown Sports Clinic in Calgary. ‘There are a number of contributing factors: smaller tunnel [in women], heredity, pregnancy, arthritis, obesity, diabetes, hypothyroidism, trauma and repetitive motions. The important thing is to treat the underlying condition.’
The carpal tunnel encases tendons to all fingers and the thumb, as well as to the median nerve. The tendons can become strained and then swell, reducing the space in the tunnel and squeezing nerves. Symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome include numbness, tingling and pain, and often increase at night.
Things that may help, says Townsend, are rest, wearing a night splint, maintaining good posture and ergonomics, and contrast baths (switching between hot and ice water). These can increase circulation and decrease inflammation. ‘And stretching and strengthening the forearm can be beneficial in increasing flexibility and circulation to the wrist,’ she says.
Place palms together, fingers straight, in a prayer position, elbows pointed out to your sides. Keeping the heels of the hands together, slowly lower hands and raise elbows so the angle at the wrist decreases. Press palms and fingers together firmly for five seconds, then release. Repeat five times.