Carpal Tunnel is real y’all. A striking 3 million cases are reported each year in the US alone, with women 3x more likely to get it then men. The Tunnel itself is home to the hand’s main nerve and the 9 tendons that bend our fingers. The condition is caused by the compression of this nerve area through repetitive hand motions and sometimes genetics. We type day in and day out, so it’s important to take the time to shake it all out (literally). Carpal Tunnel Release is one of the most common surgeries in the US. Though the surgery only requires 1 night’s stay at the hospital, it can take several months for full recovery. A few months without full dexterity of a wrist, yea right! What am I supposed to do, get velcro shoes, stop blow drying my hair, and reframe from posting pointless comments on a distant friend’s Facebook page all while I’m out of work for months. No thank you! ..So, here are a few small stretches you can sneak in throughout the day to help keep carpal tunnel at bay:
1) Shake it out: Shaking your hands out (as though you are air drying them) helps to loosen the median nerve, preventing the nerve and your hands from cramping up.
2) Frankenstein arms: With arms straight out & relax the fingers, lift your palms up creating flat, flexed hands ( as though you are instructing someone to stop). Hold each pose for 5 seconds & repeat.
3) Prayer pose: Bring your hands to prayer pose at chin hight, slowly lowering your arms or prayer down your midline (keeping thumbs close to the body) until you feel a mild to moderate stretch in your forearms. Hold for 15-30 seconds.
4) Finger stretch: With fingers spread wide, flip your hand so that your palm faces the ceiling. Take your other hand and place a small amount of pressure on your fingers, finding a mild to moderate stretch. The closer you get to the tips of your fingers, the more you will feel this stretch in your wrist. Hold for 10-15 seconds, before switching hands.
5) Make a fist. Now open your hand to let your fingers hang. Hold each pose for a few seconds and repeat as it feels comfortable.
A 2003 study, highlighted in this New York Times article, indicates that mouse users are at an even higher risk of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome than those that use a keyboard alone. Though some have found that simply reducing the size of their mouse pad helps or switching to the more economical trackball mouse is a good way to go if you have the $30 to spare.
Please note that Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a real condition that does require medical assistance. As with anything, if you are experiencing pain from an activity, cut it out and go to the stinkin doctor!