What is carpal tunnel syndrome?
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition marked by discomfort and limited function in the wrist and hand due to excessive pressure on the median nerve that runs down the medial arm through the center of the wrist to the hand. .
“Pressure can occur anywhere along the gland of the median nerve, but is most commonly found in the neck due to a herniated disc,” says physiotherapist and NY Fit Club founder Kellen Scantlebury, DPT explains.
That compression leads to numbness, tingling, and possibly weakness in the hands, wrists, and even elbows, all of which are hallmark signs of carpal tunnel syndrome.
The median nerve covers the inside of the thumb, index and middle fingers, along with the inner surface of the ring finger, so any or all of these fingers can be affected. “It’s common for people with carpal tunnel syndrome to notice that these fingers are frequently numb when sleeping, working on a computer, or doing other hand-related activities,” says Dr. Scantlebury.
How can strengthening exercises prevent and alleviate carpal tunnel syndrome?
According to Dr. Scantlebury, strengthening exercises can help reduce the risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome and ease symptoms. “Strengthening exercises for the flexors and extensors of the fingers as well as the flexors and extensors of the wrist are most effective,” he says.
However, there’s one important caveat: Carpal tunnel strengthening exercises (as well as strength training exercises in general) must be done correctly and in good form. “Many people need to be done with neutral wrists to reduce pressure on the median nerve,” says Dr. Scantlebury.
Scantlebury notes that one of the main symptoms — weakness — can make strength training in general difficult (“need to avoid pushups,” he says), but doing the exercises increases strength. Targeted strengthening for carpal tunnel syndrome can help combat this problem.
“Training your postural muscles is also important. Many times, posture habits are a major contributing factor to carpal tunnel syndrome,” he says.
Five easy exercises for carpal tunnel syndrome
While seeing a physical therapist is often the best way to get a rehabilitation program tailored to your needs, Dr. Scantlebury taught us some basic cervical canal exercises. hand that you can try at home.
1. Towel or ball clip with wrist extension
Scantlebury says it’s one of the best exercises for carpal tunnel syndrome because it improves both your grip strength and wrist extensor strength.
“Both of these areas can be affected by carpal tunnel syndrome,” he says. “These are especially important because we spend more time typing on the computer.”
To do this exercise, grip a soft ball (such as a stress ball) or a washcloth, squeezing your fists as tightly as possible, while extending your wrists, as if you were raise your hand to signal someone to stop — the back of the right hand should face the hairy side of the arm.
2. Towels or ball clips with wrist-folding capabilities
This method addresses grip strength and wrist flexion, so it helps prevent and alleviate carpal tunnel syndrome by strengthening and minimizing the muscles around the median nerve.
For this move, do the exact same ball or towel squeeze, but this time, flex your wrists by bringing your palm toward your inner arm.
3. Prone Ts
This exercise strengthens the trapezius muscles in the upper back, supporting the postural muscles of the shoulders and neck.
“Typically, weakness of these muscles leads to poor posture which can cause carpal tunnel syndrome,” says Dr. “This is a great exercise to increase their endurance.”
Here’s how to do it:
- Lie on your stomach with a small rolled-up towel under your forehead for comfort.
- Bring your arms to the side so your body forms a “T.” huge.
- Squeeze your shoulder blades together to lift your arms off the ground, as if trying to fly. Keep your elbows straight.
- Complete three sets of 20 to 30 reps, increasing the number of reps you do.
Add small dumbbells or a water bottle to increase the difficulty.
Dr Scantlebury says that the muscles and tendons that control our fingers need to slide and glide easily over each other to create effective and painless motion.
“In our hands, we have a series of tendons that connect to bones to help us move our fingers. If these tendons get stuck, we will have difficulty completing fine motor and motor tasks,” he explains. “Tendron surfing helps us improve this movement and can increase finger strength.”
There are four basic gliding exercises you can do to get started:
- Hold hands, squeeze and relax.
- Bend your fingers only so that your fingers are curled and the pad touches the bottom third of your fingers (swipe hand position), then straighten again.
- Keep your fingers perfectly straight and bend your hand into an L, so that your fingers are at a 90-degree angle with your palm. Relax again.
- Fold your fingers all the way down to touch your palm, then open it back up.
Complete each exercise 20 to 30 times, depending on tolerance.
5. Finger faucet
Dr. Scantlebury says this exercise increases the strength and endurance of the muscles in the hand, which can reduce symptoms and prevent functional decline.
To do this, touch each finger with your thumb (thumb to index finger, thumb to middle finger, thumb to ring finger, etc.). Complete 10 sets per hand. You can increase the intensity by adding putty to your fingers; This forces you to retreat from the resistance.
Remember the bigger picture
While strength training can help prevent and alleviate symptoms, Dr. Scantlebury says exercise shouldn’t be the only component of your detox/rehabilitation program.
“A balanced program that includes endurance training, wrist mobility and nerve stretching are your best bets,” he says. “If you suspect you have carpal tunnel syndrome, get an evaluation by a physical therapist. If your treatment is not going well, you can recommend an orthopedic surgeon.”